An allergy or hypersensitivity reaction occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless (allergen), such as mold, pollen, animal dander, or dust mites.
Allergy symptoms may include runny nose, watery eyes, urticaria (hives), angioedema (swelling beneath the skin), and atopic dermatitis (red, itchy dry skin). The most severe allergic reaction, known as called anaphylaxis, can lead to low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, shock, and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal.
During pregnancy, women who have allergies may experience changes in the way they respond to allergens. Allergy symptoms may improve, worsen, or remain the same; there is no way to predict how an individual's allergies will change during pregnancy. Researchers estimate that about one-third of pregnant women who have allergies experience reduced allergy symptoms.
Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma are the most common types of allergies that affect pregnant women. In addition, some pregnant women may experience non-allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), also called rhinitis of pregnancy, which appears to be caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones (such estrogen and progesterone). Allergy symptoms are usually most severe between 29 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, according to researchers.
Minimizing exposure to known allergens may help reduce or prevent allergy symptoms. There are also many treatment options that are safe for pregnant women who have allergies. Certain asthma medications (like inhaled bronchodilators and beclomethasone), antihistamines (like diphenhydramine), and cromolyn sodium nasal sprays have been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of allergies during pregnancy.
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