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Monday, November 17, 2014

A pill for asthma?!

When you think asthma, you probably think of someone using their inhaler. BUT there is a pill that has been used for years to control asthma and allergies. Singulair (montelukast sodium) is a once a day pill that is used to treat asthma and allergies. 

Singulair is a leukotriene modifier. What does that mean? It was explained to me like this: leukotriene is what is released in the body during an asthma attack. Histamine is what is released in the body during an allergic reaction. So, people take antihistamines to block the histamine from being released into the body (and help control allergies). Think of Singulair like an "antileukotriene." It helps control the release of leukotriene (and can help control asthma.)

Still confused? Dr. Martha White wrote an article for Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA.)  

Singulair might be an option for some people to treat their asthma. Dr. White says it's available as sprinkles and as a chewable tablet. It's also available as a pill that you swallow (all of my teenagers take the pill form every day.) 

And, there is a generic pill available now! So instead of paying around $50 a month for EACH of my teenager's prescriptions (yep, $150 a month), we only pay about $10 a month now for EACH prescription ($30 a month). Much better!!

Yes, I did the happy dance when Singulair finally went generic! When you have 4 people in your family with asthma, (me and 3 teenagers) and we all have maintenance medications, rescue inhalers, medicine for the nebulizer, allergy medicine and singulair, it really adds up! Hubby has allergies too, so we have to add in his medicine and nose spray..

In fact, at one point I asked the pharmacist if I could just sign over my paycheck - just to make things easier! 

Talk to your doctor and see if Singulair would work for you or your kids. Everyone is different when it comes to treating asthma. Some kids with mild asthma can use Singulair. Other kids need Singulair plus an inhaled corticosteroid and allergy medicine. 

Until them, keep breathing!


  1. There is also accolade and zylflo in the same class as singulair. My insurance didn't want to cover singulair and wanted me on accolade but my doctor said no because accolade can cause liver damage so I'm taking singulair now. And zylflo has to be taken 4x a day which is very inconvenient. I also heard albuterol is in pill form. I wonder what that is used for.

    1. Yes, thanks for mentioning those.

      For the Albuterol in pill form, it's called Theophylline.

      Theophylline is used to prevent wheezing and trouble breathing from ongoing lung disease (asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis)

      Here's a quote from Webmd:

      This medication is used to treat and prevent wheezing and trouble breathing caused by ongoing lung disease (e.g., asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis). Theophylline belongs to a class of drugs known as xanthines. It works in the airways by relaxing muscles, opening air passages to improve breathing, and decreasing the lungs' response to irritants. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school.

      This medication does not work immediately and should not be used for sudden attacks of breathing trouble. Your doctor should prescribe a quick-relief medicine/inhaler (e.g., albuterol) for sudden attacks of shortness of breath/asthma while you are on this medication. You should always have a quick-relief inhaler with you. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

      Hope this helps!

  2. I remember the story of my doctor from the Polish 1980's. This was a period of "dark communism" in my country, in December 1981 began martial law (which finished in 1983). My doctor, who had started to work in his job in these hard times, told me that it was very hard time also for Polish asthmatics. There were almost no medicines for them, only corticosteroid in pill or in injections, so in Polish 1980's diagnose of asthma was almost the death sentence. For my doctor, who worked in this time at emergency, it was frustrating and made him depressed, because he wanted to help these poor people, but he couldn't. Asthmatics were dying because of lack of medicines or because of strong side effects.
    Today we have modern medicines. I mentioned about the Polish 1980's to take your attention, what happens, when You take pill instead of common, normal inhalers - I mention daily use, not emergency states.
    We also have Singulair and I also tried to take this, but I don't have good experience with this medicine. What is more, it is too expensive for most asthmatics from our part of Europe...
    I greet You from relative warm (+10 C) south Poland :)

    1. Wow! What a sad story.

      It's hard to hear about doctors who are caught in the middle of politics, and all they want to do is save lives.

      What a scary time!

      In one of the article I read, it said Singulair was more effective in children.

      It's interesting to see the changes in medicine and what works in some people doesn't work in others.

      Glad you are nice and warm!

  3. Hi ,

    I created a website ( to help people with asthma so they can deal with it better.
    I know it's tough as i have seen how bad it can be. Therefore, i want to help them as much as i can.

    If you like to help the asthma community and participate in a link exchange, I would be happy to do so!
    Please check my website out:
    I hope it helps. Thank you so much.

    Xing Tingkai

  4. I had an early asthma review a couple of days ago and my nurse has put me on Montelukast (the Actavis one: she wouldn't get posh and give me Singulair haha) to help with my tight-chestedness and coughing around ice hockey and ice skating (both of which I love) as well as my allergies. In the UK most tablets come in sheets in boxes rather than loose in a bottle, which I guess is cheaper and everything but I'd prefer bottles for my mess because although Montelukast and Pizotifen (migraine prophylaxis) are night-time pills, my Vitamin D, Naratriptan (cluster headache rescue) and pred and antibiotics (when I get those) all go to college with me and get squashed in my bag...

    Anyway, it's kind of different having a square tablet (ooh, funky) and we are going to try to step back down to Seretide 50/25 in a few weeks. If that doesn't work, or the Montelukast isn't doing its job when I'm next at the rink, then she will have to refer me to a specialist. I hope I can step down my preventer though, as although it's free right now and will be a fixed price when I eventually have to pay, I don't like the thought that I'm costing an already underfunded and overstretched NHS £36 each month just for the preventer. Also, I get weird looks off people when they find out that I'm on a steroid, LABA, AND Montelukast for asthma! And they think it's a simple case of puff your reliever and go!

    1. I wonder if one of your asthma triggers is the cold? Since it seems to hit when you skate? Cold temperatures are one of my triggers too. In fact, I have noticed many of the Olympic athletes cover their nose and mouth with hand kerchiefs or scarves. I'm sure it warms up the air before they breathe in.

      I know what you mean about people thinking just take a puff of your inhaler and you should be fine. For some people, maybe yes.

      My kids are on allergy medicine year round, have had 5-6 years worth of allergy shots, are on a combination medicine (bronchodilator and corticosteroid) and Montelukast.

      Everyone is different with asthma. You have to find what works well for you.

      For the record, we LOVE our specialist. Not only is a good doctor, but he connects with all of us - remembering to ask us what the kids are doing in school/sports/musical instruments, etc.

      He has literally watched them grow up since he has been their doctor for 15 years now. I hope you find someone that works well with you!