Can I take hay fever medicine during pregnancy?

It depends on the medicine. During pregnancy, you can take some hay fever medicines but not others, because there’s not enough evidence on their safety.

Get advice first

Always check with your pharmacist or GP before taking any medicine when you’re pregnant, including hay fever medicine. They will assess the medicine’s benefits against the risk of side effects and advise you on whether it’s safe. They will also take into account your individual circumstances when deciding if your hay fever symptoms need to be treated with medicine.

Prescribed medicines are free while you’re pregnant. Make sure you always follow the recommended dose.

Nasal spray and nose and eye drops

If your pharmacist or GP thinks your hay fever symptoms need treatment, they will usually advise you to try a nasal spray, nose drops or eye drops first.

They may recommend:

  • a corticosteroid nasal spray
  • an antihistamine nasal spray (although these should be used with caution during pregnancy. This is because there is less information on their safety in pregnancy, so should be used if the corticosteroid nasal sprays do not work)
  • antihistamine eye drops

These medicines help unblock your nose and sinuses by reducing inflammation.

Oral antihistamines

Always check with your GP before taking oral antihistamines (antihistamine tablets) when you’re pregnant. Pharmacists are unlikely to sell antihistamines over the counter for use in pregnancy, because of manufacturers’ restrictions.

You can take some oral antihistamines when you’re pregnant, but not others.

Oral antihistamines can help relieve itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.

The antihistamines mentioned in this section have not been shown to cause harm to the unborn baby, and doctors consider them suitable for use during pregnancy.

If you can’t use nasal sprays, nose drops or eye drops, or if they don’t work for you, your GP may recommend an oral antihistamine called loratadine.

If loratadine is not suitable or does not work for you, your GP may instead recommend another oral antihistamine called cetirizine.

Some oral antihistamines can cause drowsiness; these are known as sedating antihistamines. However, loratadine and cetirizine are non-sedating and are the preferred oral antihistamines for treating hay fever during pregnancy.

The sedating oral antihistamine chlorphenamine is also considered safe to take during pregnancy. However, this should be avoided close to labour and childbirth as it can cause problems in the baby, such as irritability or tremors (shaking).

If you become drowsy after taking oral antihistamines, do not drive or operate machinery.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2014

Next review due: 03/06/2016