Mast Cell Inhibitors & Hay Fever


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Mast cell inhibitors are a type of drug that act in such a way as to effectively inhibit certain cellular reactions. In this case they are used to stop mast cells from undergoing the chemical reaction that prompts the release of histamines from the cells. This successfully blocks the allergic response involving exposure to the pollens that cause the symptoms of hay fever.

Sodium Chromoglycate or Chromolyn Sodium

One of the most common mast cell inhibitors used for the treatment of hay fever is a solution called sodium chromoglycate or chromolyn sodium. It is a drug that can successfully stop mast cells from releasing the histamines that then prompt the allergic reaction. The most common form of drug delivery into the system is either nasal sprays or eye drops. Mast cell inhibitors can also be taken as tablets, oral inhalers and topical ointments.

As a form of hay fever treatment, mast cell inhibitors such as sodium chromoglycate need to be taken up to four times a day in order to effectively combat the irritating and uncomfortable symptoms of hay fever. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include runny nose, runny eyes, itching and redness, sneezing and coughing. They offer a very good alternative to other hay fever treatments such as those involving corticosteroids due to the very low number of side effects associated with them. However, as with most hay fever treatments, a more universal relief of symptoms can be obtained by combining them with antihistamines and decongestants. For optimal effectiveness treatment should start approximately 2 weeks before the anticipated hay fever symptoms. It is important to bear in mind that when taking either an oral or a nasal inhaler, if there is anything that obstructs the path of the drug from the mucosal membranes, then the effects will be greatly reduced. An example might be that of polyps in the nose. The formation of these stops the nasal spray from effectively getting to the mucus membrane and acting to stop the release of the histamines from the mast cells.

Since mast cell inhibitors only target a very specific area, taking them is very unlikely to cause any sort of allergic interaction with any other drugs or even food.

One thing to note with mast cell inhibitors if they are being applied vie eye drops is that they should not be used if you are wearing contact lenses. What can happen with prolonged use of the eye drops is a gradual build up in the contact lens itself of the drug. This can, in turn, cause a secondary reaction resulting in irritation and redness in the eyes.


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Guide to Hay Fever