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Understanding Asthma Medications (cont.)

Leukotriene Inhibitors for Asthma: Use, Side Effects, and Interactions

Montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate), and zileuton (Zyflo) are used to control asthma symptoms. They are often used in addition to inhaled corticosteroids to avoid the use of oral corticosteroid.

How leukotrienes work

Leukotrienes are powerful chemical substances produced by the body. They promote the inflammatory response caused by exposure to allergens. Leukotriene inhibitors block the action or production of these chemicals, thereby reducing inflammation.

Who should not use these medications

  • Individuals who are allergic to leukotriene inhibitors should not take these drugs.
  • Individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU) should not take the chewable tablets that contain aspartame because this artificial sweetener contains phenylalanine


  • Leukotrienes are available with a prescription as tablets, chewable tablets, and oral granules.
  • Granules may be taken directly in the mouth, or they may be mixed in soft foods like pudding or applesauce.
  • The drug is administered as a once-daily dose.

Drug or food interactions

No drug or food interactions have been reported.

Side effects

Leukotrienes are typically well tolerated, and side effects are similar to those of patients taking a placebo (sugar pill). Reports of headache, earache, sore throat, and respiratory infections have been noted.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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