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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

Although you can buy many hay fever medicines over the counter, it's best to get advice from a pharmacist or GP before taking any medicine when you're pregnant.

They'll assess your symptoms and the benefits of taking a medicine against the risk of any side effects.

To ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high, it helps to:

  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible

If you decide to take hay fever medicine, you'll usually be advised to try a nasal spray or eyedrops first.

Nasal spray and eyedrops

A pharmacist or GP may recommend:

  • a corticosteroid nasal spray
  • a sodium cromoglicate nasal spray, though this may be less effective than a corticosteroid nasal spray
  • antihistamine or sodium cromoglicate eyedrops

Antihistamine tablets (oral antihistamines)

Antihistamine tablets can help relieve itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing, but not all types are suitable to take during pregnancy, so always check with a GP beforehand.

Pharmacists are unlikely to sell antihistamines without a prescription for use in pregnancy because of manufacturers' restrictions.

If you cannot use nasal sprays or eyedrops or they do not work for you, a GP may recommend an antihistamine tablet that does not cause drowsiness, such as:

  • loratadine – this is usually the first choice for pregnant women because of the amount of safety data available for it
  • cetirizine – if loratadine is not suitable or does not work for you, a GP may recommend cetirizine, another antihistamine tablet that does not cause drowsiness

Chlorphenamine is also considered one of the safer antihistamines to take during pregnancy, but because it can cause drowsiness, loratadine and cetirizine are usually the preferred options.

For information about taking specific medicines in pregnancy, see the bumps (best use of medicines in pregnancy) website.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 22 May 2019
Next review due: 22 May 2022