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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Itching For A Scratch...

A quick quip about allergies and pregnancy... as I have never, ever experienced anything much like it! For about three weeks, I have been coping with ragweed/early Autumn allergies that I normally experience every year during the Summer to Autumn change. Although this time... WATCH OUT!!! I sneezed 13 times today, consecutively, in front of my Creative Writing class (they counted). Good thing I was wearing an "Oops..I crapped my pants" protective undergarment (hehehe). Wow... allergies are definitely exacerbated by pregnancy hormones. Yikes! I have been burning through tissues and hankies, and have even taken to stuffing my nostrils with tissues between classes. I felt some relief during a lunch period yesterday, and decided to step outside and enjoy the 11:00 sunlight while I dined. I perched myself in a sunny spot behind th High School, resting my bulbous belly on my legs, and my sandwich on my bulbous belly. There were bees swarming about, chanting their summer goodbye... and the occasional buzz of a yellow jacket, circling my apple juice. Sneeze free, I yawned, cleaned up my goodies and pried myself off of the step to venture inside, only to discover... much to my chagrin... that a lone yellowjacket had been nestled into the back of my knee. I was stung in the crease, and I immediately attempted to yank out the stinger and danced around a bit. I'm sure that it was quite a scene for any student onlookers.

Within an hour... pain was not the issue, but the elephantitis of the knee was of some concern. Historically, I had never had any sort of weird reaction to stings or bites in any capacity; times have changed, as the leg tightened, swelled, hurt and itched horribly by the close of the school day. I'm chalking the bizarro reaction, yet again, up to chaotic pregnancy hormones.

The following is an article that broaches the subject of seasonal allergies during pregnancy that you may find interesting:

Allergies and Pregnancy
Tips on Handling Allergies During Pregnancy
By Dr. David L. Wertheim

Being pregnant in the summertime can be terrific. No more bundling up in sweaters that could double as king-size blankets. And now you can get outside to take walks for your much-needed exercise.

But braving the outdoors can be challenging if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergies at this time of the year are caused by tree pollen in April and early May, grass pollen in May and June and molds, which are present once the weather warms consistently above the freezing point and persist through the hot summer months. Ragweed and other weeds that can trigger allergies are present in the late summer and last into October. If you have these allergies, the best time to be outside is right after it rains, as the pollen gets "washed out of the air" for a while.

Some women report the severity of their seasonal allergy symptoms actually changes during pregnancy. Women in general do suffer from more nasal congestion due to hormonal influences during pregnancy. Allergies compound these symptoms, and sinusitis is about six times more common in pregnant women according to a Finnish study. In general, one-third of women state that their allergies worsen during pregnancy, one-third report that their symptoms stay the same and about one-third say they actually get better. No one can predict into which group you might fall!

Which Medications Are Safe?
When allergy symptoms spring up during pregnancy, the only thing most women would rather reach for is another tissue. Many would rather not take allergy medications. Sneezing, coughing and watery eyes were accepted as yet more symptoms of pregnancy that would be tolerated for the good of the baby, but do they need to be?

The reality is most allergy medications are safe for pregnant women. In 1979, the FDA divided all medications into categories based on their safety for pregnant women. Many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications are Category B, which means studies in animals have failed to link any increased risk of medical problems to the fetus. Other allergy medications are Category C, wherein no studies have been done as of yet, or there were studies which showed potential problems in animal fetuses but not in humans. Category C medication may be considered safe to use but should be used under the guidance of your doctor.

As always, you need to check with your doctor before taking any medication because your individual medical history may warrant a different recommendation.

Dust and Allergen Dangers
If you experience allergy symptoms, talk to your OB/GYN to determine your options and your comfort level with medications. But even if you get the go ahead, there are many women and physicians who feel it is better to be safe than sorry and not use any medications. Either way, by reducing the allergens in your home, you can help alleviate or prevent allergy symptoms. Some things you can do include:

Wrap mattress and pillows with zippered covers, and use pillows filled with synthetic fibers.
Replace carpeting with smooth-finish wood or vinyl flooring. If you have carpeting, use a vacuum and make sure it has a HEPA filter system.
Dust hard surfaces in the home with an electrostatic cloth, like Swiffer, to help remove dirt, dust and hair from hard surfaces.
Wash bedding in hot water, as it kills dust mites.
Avoid storing books in bedrooms.
Keep windows closed.
Remove pets from the home if at all possible.
If pets must remain at home, keeping them out of the bedroom, washing them weekly and getting a HEPA filter for the bedroom will help lessen the effects of animal dander.

The Heredity Factor
If you and your husband have blue eyes, there is a very good chance that your baby will have light eyes as well. Just like your children can inherit physical traits, they can also inherit allergies. If neither parent has allergies, the baby's chance of being allergic is equal to the incidence of allergies in the general population: 20 percent. If one parent suffers from allergies, the child has up to a 40 percent likelihood of having allergies. If both parents are afflicted, the risk in children rises to 70 to 80 percent.

You must remember that this will not tell you which allergic trait your child may inherit. For example, you may have an allergic nose, but your child might have eczema (skin allergy) or asthma but not have nasal allergies. Furthermore, if you have a penicillin allergy, there is no guarantee that your child will be allergic to penicillin as well. If you are peanut allergic, it does not mean your child will definitively be peanut allergic as well.

It is currently believed that you can delay the onset of allergies by breastfeeding your baby. However once you stop breastfeeding (which you eventually will), your child's risk for developing allergies will return to the original odds. Interestingly, if you avoid certain foods that are highly allergenic (tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk) while you are breastfeeding, you may actually prevent these allergies from showing up in your child.

Testing Your Baby for Allergies
If you believe your child might have allergies, consult your doctor. Many pediatricians may not be aware that you can evaluate a child for allergies even before their first birthday. Testing is done most accurately by skin pricks. While blood tests may be done, they are not considered as accurate.

Animal allergies and dust mite allergy can be diagnosed by 6 months of age, and food allergies can be detected at any age. A child probably needs three seasons of pollen exposure to develop pollen-related allergy symptoms, so a runny nose during the spring in a 1-year-old is probably due to an infection or an indoor allergy, not due to the pollen.

Some signs that your child may have nasal allergies are a persistent runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing or wheezing. The other diagnosis that can cause these symptoms is an infection (such as sinusitis). Food allergies present symptoms as hives, vomiting or explosive diarrhea after ingesting the suspected food. About one-third of children with eczema may have a food trigger. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, visit your medical provider and discuss the possibility of allergies.

Today there are many safe and well-tolerated medications for children to treat allergies. Allergies often have a significant medical impact, but treating them on an emotional level is important, too. Children with untreated allergies may find it difficult to visit relatives and friends with animals, be unable to partake in class trips to the zoo or the circus and be unable to play organized, outdoor sports at their best level because of discomfort from allergy symptoms. While some children outgrow their allergies, it is important to address these problems when they flare.

This too shall pass...
Amanda xo

1 comment:

  1. Pregnancy is a very serious matter. I think it must be taken into consideration.