How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Sodium cromoglycate belongs to the class of medications called mast cell stabilizers. It is used to prevent symptoms associated with asthma that are caused by exposure to certain substances or conditions. When used regularly, this medication will decrease the occurrence and severity of asthma attacks by reducing lung inflammation.
Examples of situations causing asthma that may be prevented by sodium cromoglycate include exercise; or exposure to pollen, chemicals, allergens (substances that cause an individual to have an allergic reaction), cold air, or air pollutants.
This medication works by preventing the release of substances from certain inflammatory cells (mast cells) that cause asthma symptoms or bronchospasm. A sodium cromoglycate inhaler will not help an asthma attack that has already started.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Nu-Cromolyn is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under sodium cromoglycate (inhaled). This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
The usual starting dose is one nebule, given through a mask attached to a machine called a nebulizer, 4 times daily. Once your doctor has determined that your asthma is under control, the dose is reduced to one nebule every 8 to 12 hours. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information on how to use the nebulizer.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose of this medication, use it as soon as you remember and then use any remaining doses for that day at regularly spaced intervals. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not use this mediction if you are allergic to sodium cromoglycate or any ingredients of the medication.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- stuffy nose
- throat irritation or dryness
- unpleasant taste
- upset stomach
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- difficulty swallowing
- increased wheezing, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath
- itching of skin
- rash or hives
- swelling of face, lips, or eyelids
- tightness in chest
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face and throat)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Overuse: The propellants used in sodium cromoglycate inhaler may be hazardous if deliberately abused, as they may be toxic to the heart in very high concentrations.
Stopping the medication: Do not stop sodium cromoglycate suddenly without checking with your doctor first.
Worsening of symptoms: Occasionally, you may develop unexpected breathing difficulties when using asthma medications. If this happens, contact your doctor at once.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if sodium cromoglycate passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or are managed by close monitoring. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.