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Leukotriene Modifiers for Allergic Rhinitis


Generic NameBrand Name

How It Works

Leukotrienes are a type of chemical that your body releases after you have contact with an allergen. This release leads to inflammation and symptoms such as a stuffy nose.

Leukotriene modifiers (leukotriene antagonists) reduce inflammation and symptoms of allergic rhinitis by blocking the action of the leukotrienes.

Why It Is Used

Leukotriene modifiers were first used to treat asthma. They are now sometimes used to treat allergic rhinitis, especially in those who also have asthma.

How Well It Works

Studies note that leukotriene modifiers reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis compared to placebo.1 Using leukotriene modifiers in combination with antihistamines may help with nasal stuffiness better than using either medicine alone.2

Although leukotriene modifiers may relieve a stuffy nose better than antihistamines, overall they do not work as well as antihistamines. They do not work nearly as well as corticosteroid nasal sprays.

Side Effects

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:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Callor other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

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.)

What To Think About

Montelukast sodium (Singulair) has been approved for treatment of allergic rhinitis. Other leukotriene modifiers include zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo). Although these are not yet approved for treatment of allergic rhinitis, your doctor may prescribe them (unlabeled use).

Taking medicine

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.

Advice for women

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)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Montelukast (Singulair) for perennial allergic rhinitis (2005). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 47(1220): 87–88.

  2. Sheikh A, et al. (2009). Hay fever in adolescents and adults, search date April 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last RevisedMay 14, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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