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Other Options to Singulair

written by: Pam Tews • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/29/2010

For many uninsured they are trying to seek out over-the-counter medicine for asthma that is similar to Singulair. Learn what OTC drugs may help you.

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    For many people in America, affording prescription medication is becoming more difficult. Many are either uninsured or underinsured. For these people they often seek to find over-the-counter medications that are similar to the prescriptions they are already taking. For people who have a chronic illness such as asthma this sometimes proves to be a difficult task. There are options out there for asthma such as Primatene mist (epinephrine) or tablets (ephedrine and guaifenesin combination tablets). For someone with allergies and asthma related to those allergies they might not be aware of over-the-counter medicine similar to Singulair. There are over-the-counter options available. Two options are ephedrine tablets and pseudoephedrine. Of course before you look at your options, please consult your physician before switching from Singulair to an OTC medication.

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    Over-the-Counter Medicine for Asthma that is Similar to Singulair

    Ephedrine

    First, let us look at ephedrine. This is generally what is in pills like Primatene or the store brand variation. It is a stimulant that is used as a bronchodilator. It is also used for nasal decongestion. This is a good option; however, like with any drug it comes with a few side effects and warnings. One major reason to avoid ephedrine is if you are diabetic, the drug can actually worsen your diabetes. Also do not take it if you have glaucoma. Just to better help you decide if this is right for you let us look at some of the side effects, which keep in mind they do not happen to everyone who takes the medication. Nervousness, anxiety, dizziness, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, or trouble sleeping may occur. Some of the more serious conditions include chest pain, unusually fast or irregular heartbeat, vomiting, tremor/shakiness, sweating, severe weight loss, difficult or painful urination, and stomach pain. If you are not comfortable with these side effects then this is not the option for you.

    Pseudoephedrine

    Now let us look at your second option pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is used for the temporary relief of stuffy nose and sinus pain/pressure caused by infection or other breathing illnesses. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. According to a study from 2006, pseudoephedrine acts in the same manner as montelukast (Singulair). The study found them to both act in a similar manner at combating seasonal allergies and other nasal problems. Since Singulair is often prescribed to people who have allergies that cause asthma, pseudoephedrine is probably a better choice than ephedrine. Much like ephedrine, pseudoephedrine comes with side effects and precautions. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, dizziness, headache, and nervousness. More serious side effects are fast/irregular/pounding heartbeat, mental/mood changes, shaking, and difficulty urinating. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. These symptoms include rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, and trouble breathing. Also like with ephedrine do not take this if you are a diabetic or have glaucoma. There are other options available if you consult your pharmacist. These two over-the-counter options are just the most readily available and most like Singulair.

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    Sources

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000731

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/AllergyImmunology/Allergy/2710

    http://www.medicinenet.com/ephedrine-oral/article.htm

    http://www.medicinenet.com/pseudoephedrine-oral/article.htm