Allergies affect many of us each year. This year is different, though. You’re now pregnant and have to keep your developing baby in mind when making everyday decisions. With the changing seasons, do you know which nasal sprays are safe to combat your allergies during pregnancy?
Nasal Spray Medications and Pregnancy
While some medications are not safe during pregnancy, there are nasal sprays that have been FDA approved for sinus congestion. To help pregnant women distinguish between safe nasal sprays that exist and those that are unsafe, there are FDA-assigned pregnancy categories used in the FDA’s Drug Formulary. The FDA Pregnancy Categories include:
- Category A – Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
- Category B – Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
- Category C – Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
- Category D – There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
- Category X – Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use of the drug in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
Before taking any nasal spray medications, you should educate yourself on the various categories, know which sprays contain steroids, saline, constrict blood flow to your sinuses or are absorbed into your body, and have a discussion with your doctor.
Choosing Safe Nasal Sprays to Use During Pregnancy
There are various nasal sprays available for allergies. Therefore, choosing the right allergy medication to use during pregnancy can be a little stressful as a first-time mom. We’ve compiled a list of safe nasal sprays, from sprays deemed safe as per the FDA Pregnancy Categories they reside in to over-the-counter (OTC) sprays, that can be discussed with your doctor for potential use during pregnancy. Please be sure to consult with your doctor before taking steps to use any of the following.
Prescription-Only Nasal Sprays
• Rhinocort Aqua (Category B). As per the FDA, Rhinocort Aqua is in Pregnancy Category B (see page 15), making it one of the safer nasal sprays to use during pregnancy. Rhinocort Aqua contains Budesonide, which is a type of steroid that helps produce hormones naturally, to control inflammatory responses. This will help to suppress a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. Rhinocort Aqua needs to be prescribed to you by your doctor, so you’ll need to have a conversation with him or her before being able to use this nasal spray.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Nasal Sprays
• Nasacort (Category C). Nasacort (triamcinolone acetonide) is a corticosteroid that helps relieve your nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy nose. Initially, you needed a prescription from your doctor before being able to use Nasacort (called Nasacort AQ). But, in 2013 the FDA approved Nasacort as an over-the-counter (OTC) nasal spray (now called Nasacort Allergy 24HR). While it is considered safe for healthy adults, Nasacort is in Pregnancy Category C.
• Saline-Only Nasal Sprays. Another way to suppress your congestion during pregnancy is by using a more natural option: saline-only nasal spray. Saline-only nasal sprays are made up of only salt and water, and there are no added steroids or chemicals in the mix. Saline-only solutions may not always help your congestion for long periods of time but will help decrease any mucus buildup and moisturize dry nasal passages almost immediately. There are many different brands of saline-only nasal sprays that can be purchased over the counter, including Simply Saline by ARM & HAMMER™ and Ayr® Saline Nasal Gel by B.F. ASCHER & Company, Inc.
Even though these nasal sprays are over-the-counter (OTC), we encourage you to speak with your obstetrician or family doctor before taking steps to use them.
If you live in the area, call us and schedule an appointment with our pediatrician or family doctor to learn more about your allergies and the nasal sprays that can help you during your pregnancy. If you are already pregnant and are at the week 27-36 mark, you can make a FAST TRACK urgent care appointment (or FAST TRACK appointment, a better urgent care for mommies and babies). We will gladly assist you.
Now that you know a little more about nasal sprays that can be used during pregnancy, pass the information on to your mommy friends!