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Leukotriene Inhibitors for Asthma and Allergies

Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis

Asthma is a chronic lung disease. When asthma strikes, airways in the lungs become swollen and constricted, causing coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, is an allergic response by your immune system to pollens, mold, and dust. Symptoms include stuffy, runny, or itchy nose, and sneezing.
Asthma and allergic rhinitis can be triggered by many of the same allergens. And, in both conditions, leukotrienes add to the development of symptoms. Leukotrienes are chemicals that cause inflammation, mucous secretion, and constriction in your lungs.

Types of Leukotriene Inhibitors

Leukotriene inhibitors are medicines that decrease inflammation by preventing the action of leukotrienes. These types of medicines are not used to relieve acute symptoms, but can be used to prevent your symptoms from occurring.
Examples of leukotriene inhibitors that are available include:
  • Montelukast
  • Zafirlukast
  • Zileuton

Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects with these drugs are:
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nervousness, excitability
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Cough
While rare, liver problems can occur while taking leukotriene inhibitors. These drugs can also cause mental health problems, like mood or behavior changes. If you are prescribed a leukotriene inhibitor, be sure that you report any side effects to your doctor.

Other Precautions

You may not be able to take a leukotriene inhibitor if you:
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients in the medicine
  • Have other medical problems, such as liver disease
  • Are taking other medicines, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, herbs and supplements
If you have asthma or allergic rhinitis and want relief from your symptoms, talk to your doctor or get a referral to an allergy specialist. Depending on your condition and overall health, leukotriene inhibitors may be a good choice for you.

RESOURCES

Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Allergy Asthma Information Association http://aaia.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Asthma. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Leukotriene blocking drugs one year later. Partners Healthcare website. Available at: http://www.asthma.partners.org/NewFiles/BoFAChapter16.html. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Leukotriene modifiers. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Sutter Health website. Available at: http://www.pamf.org/asthma/medications/oral/leukotrines.html. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Montelukast. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Rhinitis. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/rhinitis.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Scow DT, Luttermose GK, Dickerson KS. Leukotriene inhibitors in the treatment of allergy and asthma. American Family Physician. 2007;75:65-70.

Singulair. DailyMed website. Available at: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=8c166755-7711-4df9-d689-8836a1a70885. Updated November 2012. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Updated information on leukotriene inhibitors: montelukast (marketed as Singulair), zafirlukast (marketed as Accolate), and zileuton (marketed as Zyflo and Zyflo CR). US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/ucm165489.htm. Published August 28, 2009. Accessed March 6, 2013.

Zafirlukast. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated January 18, 2013.

Zileuton. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed March 6, 2013.

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