Pregnancy is a time of great transformation. However, the experience also comes with heightened stress and anxiety, especially concerning medications. Knowing which medications are safe to take during pregnancy can be daunting and confusing. While some are fine, others may pose potential risks to your baby. Therefore, it's vital to consider the potential side effects of any medication you might use.
People with allergies may commonly take hydroxyzine, a well-known antihistamine (via MedlinePlus). Antihistamines work by suppressing the activity of histamine in the body, as this chemical is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with allergies, such as itching, sneezing, hay fever, and hives, says the National Health Service (NHS). In addition to its antihistamine properties, hydroxyzine is sometimes prescribed as a sedative and can also be used to manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, says Medline Plus. You can find the medication in several forms, the most common being capsules and tablets. However, it also comes as a syrup and injection.
There is limited research on the safety of hydroxyzine during pregnancy. However, one 2017 article published in the journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology suggests that the medication may be associated with an increased risk of certain congenital disabilities if taken during the first trimester. If you're unsure about anything, it's always best to consult your doctor first. They can help you weigh the potential risks against the benefits of the medication to determine the best course of treatment. In urgent situations, your doctor might recommend taking hydroxyzine during pregnancy. This might happen if your condition is life-threatening or the benefits of the medication outweigh the potential risks.
Alternatively, consider other safer options. For example, antihistamines like loratadine are generally considered safe during pregnancy, says the National Health Service (NHS). It is classified as a Pregnancy Category B drug, meaning that animal studies have not shown any harm to the fetus. There is also no evidence of risk to human fetuses based on limited studies in pregnant women (via Drugs.com).
Aside from its association with potential birth defects, hydroxyzine can have various side effects pregnant people should be aware of. One of the most common is drowsiness, which might be especially concerning to anyone already experiencing fatigue during pregnancy. Anybody who has to drive or operate machinery should also be cautious of hydroxyzine's sedating effects. Some people also experience dry mouth, and in some cases, confusion can occur, says Medical News Today. However, elderly people tend to experience this more. They also have a higher chance of experiencing various other side effects.
Anaphylaxis is another potential, though uncommon, side effect. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue and throat, and a rapid heartbeat. However, the chances of experiencing this while taking hydroxyzine are rare, says a 2009 case report published in the European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Nevertheless, if you experience such symptoms, please contact your nearest hospital emergency — anaphylaxis can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
Some other less common side effects of hydroxyzine include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures, says Medline Plus.
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