Cromolyn sodium for allergic rhinitis

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Cromolyn sodium for allergic rhinitis


Generic Name
cromolyn sodium

How It Works

Cromolyn sodium is a type of medicine called a mast cell stabilizer. When mast cells (a cell of the immune system) in the nose come in contact with an allergen, they release histamine, which causes the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Cromolyn sodium and other mast cell stabilizers prevent the mast cells from releasing histamine, which reduces some of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Cromolyn is prescribed in an inhaled form, so that you can breathe the medicine into your mouth (using an inhaler) or into your nose (using a nasal inhaler).

Nasally inhaled forms of cromolyn sodium are also available as an over-the-counter medicine.

Why It Is Used

You can use cromolyn sodium to prevent and reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, and eye irritation. It is safe for children and pregnant women to use.

How Well It Works

Cromolyn sodium reduces sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, and eye irritation. Cromolyn sodium:

  • Is not as effective as nasal corticosteroids for more severe symptoms.
  • May not work as well if you have nasal polyps or other defects that could block the spray from reaching the lining of your nose and sinuses.

It may take 1 to 4 weeks before cromolyn sodium is fully effective. Because of this, cromolyn sodium is considered more useful in preventing allergy symptoms. It is not as effective as other medicines at treating symptoms after they have already started.

Side Effects

Side effects of cromolyn sodium are rare.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Cromolyn sodium is a very safe medicine. Children and pregnant women can use it.

You have to take cromolyn sodium up to 4 times each day for it to work well. This is hard for many people to do.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Harold S. Nelson, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised October 12, 2009

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.