It’s that time of year again – allergies due to hay fever from pollen, newly growing weeds, and budding trees can make springtime a miserable time of year. If you are trying to conceive (TTC), your doctor or healthcare provider may have made Over-The-Counter (OTC) allergy medications such as Claritin® or Allegra® off-limits for the time being. You’ll need to find other ways to reduce hay fever symptoms that will not interfere with your efforts to conceive by drying up CM or creating other health imbalances.
Prescription Anti-Histamines, Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays, and Decongestants
Most OTC allergy medications are not recommended while you are trying to conceive, and the reason for this is that they have not been studied enough to be declared as safe during efforts to conceive or during pregnancy. If you are suffering from hay fever symptoms, you can ask your doctor if one of the older, more researched anti-histamines, nasal sprays, or decongestants might be an option.
Spring is in the air! Today is a good day to check that air filter in your HVAC system. People often wait too long between changes, but when the pollen is in the air, it’s time to make sure your filter is working. You want a mechanical air filter with a high MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value), which means you will need to spend more than a couple dollars to get a good filter. Fiberglass and pleated air filters, the cheapest types of air filters, only collect up to about 45% of the dust and pollen coming in from outside and have low MERV ratings.
Depending on how bad your allergies are, it is better to choose a high-efficiency air filter, or a HEPA filter. A high-efficiency filter reduces indoor pollution by up to 85% and has a MERV between 15 and 16. These filters catch most dust and pollen particles, and some high-efficiency filters are coated in chemicals that kill microbes as well (but will not affect you). This type of filter is the most cost-efficient for homeowners because HEPA filters, unlike high-efficiency filters, require a full HEPA filtration system to be installed in your home. HEPA filters are fantastic and trap 98% of incoming pollutants and have a MERV between 17 and 20, but the filters are so efficient that normal residential HVAC systems are not strong enough to blow air through the filters. If your allergies are seriously affecting your quality of life, investing in a HEPA filtration system for your home could make health and financial sense. Otherwise, invest in a high-efficiency filter and be sure to change it out as often as instructed by the manufacturer (generally between one to two months).
Vitamin C is a known and natural antihistamine, so increasing your intake of citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits could help you decrease hay fever symptoms. But there are other delicious foods that contain even more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, so feel free to indulge in red and green bell peppers; dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard; broccoli; cauliflower; Brussels sprouts; and fruits such as papaya, strawberries, pineapples, and mangoes. Always discuss changes in diet with your fertility doctor, your nutritionist or your fertility health care provider. If you are taking Vitamin C pills, ask your doctor if it is ok to continue them once you are pregnant.
The mild, floral-scented flavour of chamomile works wonderfully as a tea or eye compress during allergy season. Drink several cups of the tea a day and use the mashed dried flowers (or chamomile tea bags) as compresses for red, itching eyes. Once you get a positive pregnancy test, best to avoid it – some studies indicate some women have negative reactions to chamomile while pregnant.
Women who are trying to get pregnant have been using acupuncture in the U.S. more and more, not only to help get healthy and pregnant, but for symptoms they do not want to treat with fertility-inhibiting medications or chemicals. Acupuncture and TCM are a great way to prevent allergy attacks and modulate immunity. Most women find that their allergy symptoms are slashed in half after about 2-3 weeks worth of treatments. Feeling good and getting pregnant more quickly also seems to be a good side-effect!
Watch the Pollen Count and Plan Accordingly
Like tech? Use a pollen counter app, or check out pollen counting websites to see how your area is being affected by springtime pollen. When pollen counts are high, stay indoors with filtered air, and keep windows and doors closed. If you have to go outside, wash your hands and face as soon as you get back inside to rinse away any lingering allergens on your skin. Also, don’t hang laundry outside on lines during high pollen count days, and roll up the car windows and turn on the air conditioning if you must travel. Some people have had some success smearing a small amount of petroleum jelly around the nostrils in order to catch dust and pollen before they enter the nasal passages. Whatever works!
The Santa Monica Fertility Clinic takes a holistic approach to TTC and works with women, men & couples to look at the options available, and decide which options are best for you. Visit our Home page to request more information.
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