Does Singulair Differ From Antihistamine for Allergies?

How is Singulair Different From Other Allergy Medicines?

Man rubbing eye
Singulair works differently than antihistamines to treat allergies. Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Does Singulair Differ From Antihistamine for Allergies?

Singulair (montelukast), a once-daily prescription medication, was developed a number of years ago for the treatment of asthma. In recent years, it was discovered that Singulair was also effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Singulair is not an antihistamine, rather, it blocks another mediator of inflammation, called leukotrienes.

In my opinion, Singulair is not a great treatment by itself for allergic rhinitis and asthma, although it can treat both diseases to some degree.

Some people, however, seem to respond tremendously well to Singulair, and it may be the only medication needed for the treatment of allergies and/or asthma.

I’ve found that Singulair is not as good as any of the antihistamines for treatment of itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing and runny nose. It seems to be best at treating nasal congestion. I tend to prescribe Singulair along with an antihistamine. Various studies have shown that the combination of these two medications is nearly as effective as nasal steroid sprays for the treatment of allergic rhinitis.

Unlike antihistamines, Singulair does not work well when taken “as needed.” Typically, the medication takes about 3 to 7 days to start working. Not all people get the benefit for allergies or asthma as a result of taking Singulair.

Singulair is indicated for the treatment of allergic rhinitis and asthma in adults and children 6 months of age and older.

Want to learn more? Find out about all the medications used to treat allergic rhinitis.


Wallace DV, Dykewicz MS, editors. Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: An Updated Practice Parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;122:S1-84.

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