Leukotriene modifiers are also called leukotriene receptor antagonists. These medicines are used for long-term control and prevention of asthma symptoms. Leukotrienes are substances made by your body that act as a trigger for an asthma attack. Blocking the action of leukotrienes helps prevent these attacks from occurring. These medicines are taken in pill form once every day.
Although these medicines may seem like they are having no effect, they work slowly over time to reduce inflammation. Leukotriene modifiers are not as powerful as corticosteroids and don't work effectively in everyone. However, they are generally very safe medicines.
Examples: Singulair ® (montelukast) and Accolate® (zafirlukast)
- Prevent asthma symptoms from occurring
- Can reduce and/or prevent:
- Inflammation and scarring in the airways
- Tightening of the muscle bands around the airways (bronchospasm)
- Do not show immediate results, but work slowly over time
- Should be taken daily, even when you are not having symptoms
- Should NOT be used to relieve immediate asthma symptoms
According to the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program at the National Institutes of Health, long-term controller medicines should be considered when infants or young children have had three or more episodes of wheezing in the previous year and who are at an increased risk of developing asthma because of their own or their parents' history of allergic diseases. They also recommend long-term controller medicines for children who need short-acting bronchodilators (rescue medicines) more than twice a week or have had severe asthma symptoms less than six weeks apart. Without a controller medicine, the underlying inflammation will continue to cause more asthma symptoms.
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