- Winter allergies are different from seasonal cold and cough but most people lack awareness about triggering factors and symptoms, especially during pregnancy
- During pregnancy, body undergoes hormonal changes which make the immune system more sensitive and more prone to allergies
With the peaking of winters, it is that time of the year where complaints like dry skin, cough and cold, sour throat become common. However, during pregnancy, the threat of winter allergies is more profound, and elicits the need to take extra precaution and care. Nearly, a quarter of all expectant mothers experience allergies during winters.
Specialists at Paras Bliss Hospital for Mother & Child say Indians lack awareness about the higher threat of allergic reactions during pregnancy and often know nothing about triggering factors.
Often the common cold, coughing and sneezing is confused with effect of change in season. However, it should be noted that while cold is a seasonal affair, allergies tend to persist for a longer period, and the only way to prevent them is by identifying triggers and avoid them. Winter allergies can leave the newborns sick with either running or a blocked nose or sore throat, itchy and red eyes, sniffling, sneezing and wheezing, among other symptoms.
During pregnancy, the winter can be particularly traumatic as there takes place several hormonal changes in the body that further work to make the immune system extra sensitive to different allergens. Therefore, symptoms like sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes tend to worsen in winters during pregnancy. With the immune system suppressed and not all medications safe to use, allergies during pregnancy can be highly troublesome.
“During the cold season, your resistance and immunity levels are low, while in pregnancy the hormonal changes further makes immune system more sensitive, thereby making you more susceptible to the prevalent germs and infections in the atmosphere. This is why you will see a lot of pregnant women suffering from breathing problems or lung allergies in highly polluted cities, especially during winters. Common triggers of allergies are mould, house dust mites, animal dander and perfumes. Besides, pet dander, smoke, gas fumes, dust mites, winter cold can make your nose watery and eyes itchy. Therefore, be attentive if your cold and sneezing is triggered by any of these factors during pregnancy. Allergies are unpredictable in pregnancy, so there’s a chance that your allergies could improve with pregnancy. However, if they continue to persist, you should consult your doctor,” said Dr. Shilva, Consultant PGI, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.
Winter allergies are triggered by the allergens present in the air that we breathe. You can avoid winter allergies by identifying the trigger. We often consider symptoms of coughing, stuffed and runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and even the dark circles under eyes as normal effects of winter, when they are effects of allergies. Pregnant women should be extra alert against possible triggers.
“Weather irritants like pet dander, mildew and mold are present in the air throughout the year, but the reason they become active in winters is because people shut all the windows with room heaters and temperature controllers switched on to avoid cold. The warm atmosphere becomes a perfect environment for mould and mites to breed. The reactions of these allergens can be controlled only if you understand what stimulates these triggers. One should consult a doctor if the symptoms last for more than a week,” said Dr. Shilva, Consultant PGI, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.
It is advisable to use follow the below preventive measures to help yourself fight allergic reactions during pregnancy:
Keep smokers at bay: While smoking is injurious to health, secondhand smoking is equally harmful, especially during pregnancy. Therefore, while smoking is prohibited when pregnant, you should also keep smokers at bay to avoid inhaling the smoke.
Stay away from chemicals, dust, pollens: Products like paint, thinners, dust and pollen grains can also trigger allergies. While you should try and avoid these chemicals and allergens, wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen and dust out of your eyes, and remove your shoes and wash your hands and face if you come in contact with them.
Ask for Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines: Although, OTC antihistamines are safe during pregnancy, they do have some side effects such as making you sleepy and causing fatigue. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before taking one.
Identify Triggers: As mentioned above, be alert to any factors that trigger sudden reactions in your child. If too harsh, get an allergy test done and consult a doctor.