Many women who have never before experienced allergies find out quickly what it's like to deal with allergy symptoms when they are pregnant. As the website and blog What to Expect describes in a recent article:"Allergies are very common in pregnancy; about a quarter of all expectant mothers experience them. Not all are long-term allergy sufferers many women with no known prior allergies complain of their symptoms just during pregnancy. Some of the stuffy symptoms are not allergies at all, but are the result of hormone-induced swelling in the nasal passages (which can also make actual allergy attacks a lot more uncomfortable). Others, however, will turn out to be indicators of newly discovered allergies."
Medications, even over-the-counter ones, should be limited during pregnancy. Many women choose to avoid them altogether while they are expecting a child. Fortunately, there are ways besides medication to both treat allergy symptoms and to minimize allergy attacks.
Acupuncture for Allergy Relief
Acupuncture, the centuries old healing practice involving the insertion and manipulation of needles into the body, is gaining popularity in Western culture. Since the 1970s, acupuncture has increasingly become a sought-after alternative treatment for both medical conditions and pain management. Though surrounded by mainstream controversy and many scientific studies that have been shown as shaky at best, many individuals turn to acupuncture to address health issues when Western medicine is undesirable for one reason or another.
Pregnancy is one such time when a woman may seek an alternative to traditional Western treatments like medication. Since allergies tend to increase in both in incidence and intensity during pregnancy, many pregnant women choose acupuncture as a less invasive option.
Acupuncture to treat allergies during pregnancy is often an integrated treatment approach that includes needle sessions in conjunction with herbs, diet recommendations, and depression treatment. According the website Acupuncture.com, this holistic approach reflects the Chinese belief that many factors including diet, emotional disturbances, and chronic illness contribute to allergies and asthma.
Laurie Tarkan, health writer and New York Times contributor, discusses the theories that may explain how acupuncture works to treat allergies on her blog Acupuncture and Allergies. In summary, her theories include:
- Acupuncture reduces the activity of mast cells, which are the immune cells that lead to the release of histamine (less activity means less symptoms).
- Needles affect collagen in the skin allowing accumulated mast cells to disperse more quickly.
- Needles stimulate local nerves, which may create feedback between the nervous system and immune system that diminishes allergic response.
Allergy Relief Products
In addition to treating the allergy symptoms that develop or increase due to pregnancy, preventing allergy attacks is a crucial component in helping pregnant women cope with their allergies. Pregnancy is an ideal time to take full advantage of the help that allergy relief and environmental products provide. Here is a list of essential allergy relief products and the allergens, or allergy symptoms, they help control:
- Air Purifier
Among the most fundamental of allergy relief products, HEPA air purifiers clean the air of at least 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns. This includes the most prevalent allergens like dust mite allergen, mold spores, pet dander, and pollen. Air purifiers equipped with activated carbon and charcoal filters, such as AllerAir units and Austin Air HealthMate air purifiers, excel at absorbing odors and gases while neutralizing smoke, chemicals, and fumes. This quality is very desirable during a woman's pregnancy.Air purifiers should go in the bedroom first, since this is the place where most of us spend the largest percentage of our time. However, it's a good idea to place additional units in areas of the home that are frequently inhabited. See our Air Purifier Buying Guide for help choosing the right unit for you.
- HEPA Vacuum Cleaners
Air purifiers take care of airborne allergens, but many allergens settle on surfaces and flooring throughout your home. To rid the indoor environment of these allergens, vacuum with a HEPA vacuum cleaner like our customers' favorites: the Dyson vacuums that never lose suction or Miele vacuums which are simply the best vacuums you can buy.
- Allergy Relief Bedding
It can be hard enough to get a good night's sleep during pregnancy; don't let allergies disturb your precious slumber. Allergy relief bedding, including sheets, pillow covers, mattress encasings, and duvet covers, help ensure that your breathing zone stays clear of allergens while you rest. We recommend Allergy Armor Ultra for its superior protection against allergens, and its noiseless, silky, and breathable fabric.
- Nasal Irrigation Products
Because a woman's body produces so much more fluid during pregnancy, she is more susceptible to complications from allergies or colds. Congestion can rapidly develop into sinusitis and sinus infections.Â These problems are much more serious to contend with during pregnancy when a woman is limited in the treatment options she has available. Hence, it's particularly important to prevent these complications before they occur.Nasal irrigation treatments with the SinuPulse Nasal Irrigation System or Grossan HydroPulse or through more simple neti pots cleanse the nasal passages of allergens and keeps them from becoming inflamed and irritated. Best of all, these systems use saline solutions that are safe for both mother and baby.
Avoiding Allergy Triggers During Pregnancy
The American College of Allergies, Asthma & Immunology recommends allergy management through environmental control during pregnancy. They offer the following general tips for keeping allergen exposure to a minimum:
- Remove allergy causing pets from the house.
- Seal pillows, mattresses, and box springs in special dust mite-proof casings.
- Wash bedding weekly in 130 F water to kill dust mites.
- Keep home humidity under 50% to control dust mite and mold growth.
- Use filtering vacuums to control airborne dust when cleaning.
- Close windows, use air conditioning, and avoid outdoor activity between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen and pollution are at their highest.
A combination of allergen avoidance and alternative treatments can be just the thing for a pregnant woman who wants to avoid allergy medication. The investments she makes in her own health and that of her baby will have long-term ramifications for the health of her home for many years to come. Not only do allergy relief products provide a natural, safe, and effective way to combat allergies during pregnancy, but they will also keep indoor air clean for the new baby and for the entire family. Helping the entire family breathe better is nothing to sneeze at!