What to do for allergies when pregnant
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.
It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.
The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.
The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.
It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.
They can cause:
- a red, itchy rash
- a runny or blocked nose
- red, itchy, watery eyes
- wheezing and coughing
- worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.
This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.
Animal to human studies
Many animal studies, both in rodents and non-human primates, own shown that experimentally induced maternal immune activation causes developmental, behavioural and social deficits in offspring. For example, when pregnant mice are injected with a substance that triggers an immune response, the resulting pups show social impairment, repetitive behaviours and communication difficulties.
These animal behaviours own been argued to be similar to those in human developmental disorders such as autism.
Studying maternal immune activation in humans is much more complicated. There is no ethical way to induce MIA in mothers to observe how it affects fetal development. Every studies are retrospective and show a correlation between two things, which means showing MIA directly causes kid development problems is difficult.
Read more: Clearing up confusion between correlation and causation
Population studies (in which mothers and their children are followed over time) show that autoimmune conditions and infections may result in a little increase in the rates of mental health and developmental disorders in children later in life.
Our own study found children of mothers who had experienced allergic or asthmatic reactions during pregnancy had a greater severity of autistic symptoms.
Understanding how and why the immune system does this remains elusive. It’s still unclear, for instance, why the immune system attacks the pancreas in those with diabetes. A combination of genetic and environmental factors is likely responsible.
Similarly, in developmental disorders such as autism, we know there are numerous causes and probably numerous types of autism.
We do not own any biological markers, other than sequencing DNA, to assist us identify the diverse types of autism or markers that assist to guide diverse treatments.
Read more: What causes autism?
What we know, don’t know and suspect
But some families report a endless history of immune or autoimmune problems. There are also numerous children whose symptoms are heavily influenced by immune insults, such as fevers and influenza. If we can identify the biological markers involved in the effects of maternal immune activation, we would be capable to target therapies for this specific group of children.
We may also be capable to unravel the intricacies of complicated disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, by figuring out why certain treatments work in some patients but not others. This would open the possibilities of using targeted tests and therapies to detect or prevent neurodevelopmental disorders in the womb.
If you or your kid own been prescribed fexofenadine, follow your doctor’s instructions about how and when to take it.
What if I forget to take it?
If you’re taking fexofenadine once a day, do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
Take the next dose at the usual time as prescribed by your doctor.
If you forget doses often, it may assist to set an alarm to remind you. You could also enquire your pharmacist for advice on other ways to assist you remember to take your medicine.
How to take it
If you’re taking 30mg fexofenadine tablets, you can take them with or without food.
If you’re taking mg and mg fexofenadine tablets, take them before a meal.
Always take your fexofenadine tablets with a drink of water. Swallow them whole — do not chew them.
When to take it
You may only need to take fexofenadine on a day you own symptoms, such as if you own been exposed to something you’re allergic to, love animal hair.
Or you may need to take it regularly to prevent symptoms, such as to stop hay fever during spring and summer.
How much to take
Fexofenadine comes as tablets (30mg, mg and mg).
How much you take depends on why you’re taking it:
- For hay fever — the usual dose for adults and children aged 12 years and over is mg once a day. The usual dose for children aged 6 to 11 years is 30mg twice a day. In this case, attempt to space the doses 10 to 12 hours apart.
- For hives — the usual dose for adults and children aged 12 years and over is mg once a day.
What if I take too much?
Fexofenadine is generally extremely safe.
Taking too much is unlikely to harm you.
If you take an additional dose by error, you might get some of the common side effects. If this happens or you’re concerned, contact your doctor.
An allergy is a reaction the body has to a specific food or substance.
Allergies are extremely common. They’re thought to affect more than 1 in 4 people in the UK at some point in their lives.
They’re particularly common in children. Some allergies go away as a kid gets older, although many are lifelong.
Adults can develop allergies to things they were not previously allergic to.
Having an allergy can be a nuisance and affect your everyday activities, but most allergic reactions are mild and can be largely kept under control.
Severe reactions can occasionally happen, but these are uncommon.
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
The more common allergens include:
- mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
- food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
- insect bites and stings
- dust mites
- medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
- latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
- grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
- household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.
How to manage an allergy
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.
There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.
This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.
Getting assist for allergies
See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.
A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.
If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
Find out more about allergy testing
The immune response
The immune system can be thought of as an army.
When an infectious agent such as a virus or bacterium invades our body, it can result in illness or fever. Our immune system recognises these harm signals and mounts an attack of its own.
This attack, known as the immune response, is carried out by immune molecules and cells that work to neutralise and eliminate threats.
Read more: Explainer: how does the immune system work?
In most situations, the immune response protects the body from illness. But it can also be negative in some cases, such as in autoimmune diseases love diabetes (type one), rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In diabetes, a misdirected immune response causes immune molecules to attack the pancreas and reduce insulin-producing cells.
It’s well established the womb environment is significant for the baby’s healthy development. This environment is generally stable and well balanced, monitored by the numerous systems that support well-being, including the nervous and immune systems. When maternal immune activation occurs, this balance is believed to be disrupted.
Armies of activated immune molecules, such as cytokines, chemokines and specific antibodies, can increase and alter the internal womb environment.
The elevated levels of cytokines and chemokines might interfere with the normal development of the baby, particularly the baby’s brain, and the nervous and immune systems.