Should You Use Singulair for Allergies?

Singulair is a common asthma medication that can also be used for allergies

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

Singulair (montelukast), a once-daily prescription medication, was originally developed to treat asthma. Since then, it's been discovered that Singulair is also an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, and inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages caused by seasonal or year-round allergens. Singulair is not an antihistamine, a medication that reduces your body's production of histamine, your body's natural first defense against allergens.

Rather, it blocks another mediator of inflammation, called leukotrienes.

Singulair for Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma

In my opinion, Singulair, by itself, is not a great treatment for allergic rhinitis and asthma, although it can treat both diseases to some degree. However, some people respond well to Singulair, and it may be the only medication needed for the treatment of allergies or asthma.

In my practice, I’ve found that Singulair does not work as well when it comes to treating itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing and runny nose as other antihistamines. Unlike antihistamines, Singulair cannot be taken as needed, and typically needs about three to seven days to start working.

What Singulair does seem to be best at is treating nasal congestion. For my patients, I tend to prescribe Singulair along with an antihistamine as various studies have shown that a combination of the two is nearly as effective as nasal steroid sprays for the treatment of allergic rhinitis.

Singular plus an antihistamine, may also be effective than taking just an antihistamine or just Singulair. Singulair can also be used to treat exercise-induced asthma. 

Side Effects of Singulair

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

Singular is considered a relatively safe medication, although side effects may occur. Side effects may include: 

  • Skin rashes
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heartburn and indigestion 
  • Nausea 
  • Changes in bowel movements 
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you take Singulair and experience any symptoms that concern you, speak with your physician or allergist. Do not hesitate to seek immediate care for any serious side effects, such as throat closing or difficulty breathing. 

Other Medications Options for Treating Allergies 

If you have allergies, Singulair is not your only option. As I mentioned earlier, you can also take antihistamines. Other medication options include steroid nasal sprays, over the counter nasal sprays, oral decongestants, combination decongestant antihistamines, and anticholinergic and antihistamine nasal sprays. 

Source:

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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