Leukotriene modifiers are a type of drug that helps one manage allergies or allergic rhinitis as well as help in the prevention of asthma.
How Do Allergies Occur?
The body has a defense system called as immune system that helps protect the body from infection and foreign matter that may cause harm or illness. In some people, their immune system sets into overdrive when a harmless foreign protein enters the system. A full-scale inflammatory response is triggered that leads to an army of inflammatory chemicals reaching the site of foreign protein. Other cells related to the immune response are in turn triggered and it leads to a full fledged allergic reaction and inflammation. Thus, one starts developing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as swelling of the nasal passages, stuffy nose or runny nose due to excessive mucus production, itching, hives, etc.
How Do Leukotriene Modifiers Help in Management of Asthma and Allergy?
During an allergic rhinitis or asthma attack, the airways become swollen and are covered with a thick layer of mucus. This tends to restrict the flow of air to and fro from the lungs, making it extremely difficult to breath. During the immune attack, the body releases leukotrienes as one of the chemicals involved in the process. Leukotrienes are derived from the dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These chemicals lead to the symptoms of allergic rhinitis as we as allergy induced asthma. These chemicals bind themselves to certain receptors of the smooth muscle cells in the windpipe. This causes the windpipe to contract and lead to allergy-induced asthma/
One of the novel drugs that helps reduce as well as prevent this swelling and mucus production before the attack starts is called as leukotriene modifiers.These drugs tend to modify the activity or production of the chemical leukotriene. This is why they are also called as leukotriene inhibitors or leukotriene receptor antagonists.
In some types, the drug limits the amount of leukotrienes produced by cells such as leukocytes. Certain types block the receptors on the smooth muscle cells that prevents the fatty molecules from binding to their target cells. Thus, preventing the contraction of the windpipe that leads to asthma attacks.
How Are Leukotriene Modifiers Prescribed?
Leukotriene modifiers are long-term allergic rhinitis or allergy induced asthma control medications. They are given in the form of granules, tablets and even chewable tablets that are usually taken two times a day. They can be given alone or in combination with other drugs for people with mild asthma symptoms.
It should be noted that leukotriene modifiers do not help in treating the symptoms. They are used only to prevent an episode of allergy from occurring. These drugs need to be taken for several weeks regularly, before they take effect. This means, these drugs need to be taken even when one is feeling better. Also, these medications are found to be effective only in some people to an extent.
Types of Leukotriene Modifiers
Leukotriene modifiers do not help relieve acute symptoms, but help in preventing the symptoms from occurring. Some of the leukotriene modifiers include:
- Montelukast (Singulair) – For exercise and allergy-induced asthma
- Zafirlukast (Accolate) – For exercise and allergy-induced asthma
- Zileuton (Zyflo) – It inhibits the synthesis of leukotriene
Side Effects of Leukotriene Modifiers
Some of the common leukotriene modifier’s side effects include:
- Appearance of flu-like symptoms
- Anxiety, feeling nervous or excitable
- Nasal congestion
- Stomach aches
Who Are Not Prescribed Leukotriene Modifiers?
Leukotriene modifiers for the treatment of asthma and allergy are not given to children with asthma under the age of 12 months or infants with perennial allergic rhinitis under the age of 6 months. Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers need to speak to their doctors before taking these medications.
Those with allergic rhinitis or asthma should speak to their doctors regarding this medication. The leukotriene modifiers for the treatment of asthma and allergy do not help treat the symptoms once they appear. These drugs help get relief from the symptoms from starting in the first place. These drugs may be a good choice for some people, depending on their condition and overall health.