Thursday, March 26, 2009

Allergies, Medicine, and Pregnancy

Yesterday I had a check up with my allergist. I started seeing him roughly 9 months ago and had my 6 month follow up yesterday. I have an allergy to various tree pollens, a few weed pollens, and a strong allergy to dust mites. That means I treat my allergies all year round, but notice it gets worse in early spring and late summer.

It is mostly allergic rhinitis, which means when it gets bad I can't breathe through my nose which can lead to sinus infections.Luckily I do not have asthma which isn't uncommon with allergies. A lot of times it is the allergen that will set off an asthma attack.

Antihistamine tablets do not seem to do much for me, and ones with decongestants make me jittery. Allegra-D works great for me, but it turns me into a zombie. So after trying a few medications, we found a routine that works for me. Nasonex, a steroid spray to reduce inflammation, in the morning, and Astelin, an antihistamine spray, before bed. I have been doing this for 6 months now and it's working out pretty good. I really feel it if I forget to take either one. This year I had no colds, no sinus infections, no bronchitis!

I asked my Dr. a very important question yesterday. How does this medication affect fetal development and is it okay to use during pregnancy. The next part is a bit confusing and left to interpretation. Both drugs are Class C drugs, meaning that they have not been tested to determine if they cause birth defects or not, but they are also not known to contain ingredients that do cause complications.

They also said that since the medication is a spray and has a less concentration entering the bloodstream, that it was probably okay. If it was a pill, they definitely would change me to Claritin (not Claritin-D) because it is considered a class B drug. Class B drugs do not have a connection to birth defects in animal studies. They also said that the most important time is the first trimester and if I am feeling uncomfortable taking the medication while pregnant, that I could start it back up after the second trimester without any problems.

Ultimately they said it was a decision that my OB and I would have to determine. After doing some research on the drugs and pregnancy, I have decided that once we decide to try and conceive, I will stop taking my allergy medication. I'm under the group that feels that no medication is safe unless it increases the health risk of the mother. Since I do not have asthma, the allergy treatment is a matter of quality of life. I can put up with the allergies for a while. If my doctor and I determine later that stopping the medication puts me at risk for infection then we can revisit it at that time.

The most important thing, if you're on any medication or any supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor before planning to become pregnant. Some medications require weaning or take a few weeks or months to clear out of the system. Your doctor will be best able to provide the information you need and whether you're at a greater health risk by ending treatment.

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