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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Mast Cell Stabilizers for Long-Term Control of Asthma
Cromolyn is used with a metered-dose
inhaler or a
nebulizer. Inhalers may be used differently, depending
on the medicine used. Always read the directions to be sure you are using
the inhaler correctly.
Mast cells are found throughout the
body, including in the airways in the lungs. They can release substances that
result in inflammation, causing the symptoms of
asthma. Mast cell stabilizers prevent the mast cells
from releasing the substances that cause inflammation. This may reduce asthma
Cromolyn may be used to treat
mild persistent asthma. It also can be used to prevent
asthma symptoms during exercise and before exposure to a substance that may
asthma attack. Mast cell stabilizers are not as
effective as inhaled
corticosteroids, which are now the recommended
Different types of medicines
are often used together in the treatment of asthma. Medicine treatment for
asthma depends on a person's age, his or her type of asthma, and how well the
treatment is controlling asthma symptoms.
Your doctor will work with you to help find the number and
dose of medicines that work best.
Cromolyn reduces asthma symptoms,
peak expiratory flow, and decreases the need for
short-acting beta2-agonists.1 But it is not as
effective as inhaled corticosteroids.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Mast cell stabilizers usually do
not relieve symptoms in people who have
moderate to severe persistent asthma. They are not
used to treat
Cromolyn has been
approved for use in children age 5 and older. It must be inhaled 3 or 4 times a
day and may take longer than 2 weeks to take effect.
doctors recommend the use of a
spacer with a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). The spacer
is attached to the MDI. A spacer may deliver the medicine to your lungs better
than an inhaler alone. And for many people it is easier to use than an MDI
Try to avoid giving your child an inhaled medicine when he
or she is crying, because not as much medicine is delivered to the
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
National Institutes of Health (2007). National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (NIH Publication No. 08–5846). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/index.htm.
February 13, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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