Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Azelastine

Azelastine is an antihistamine used for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

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Azelastine is the active ingredient of Rhinolast.

General information

Azelastine is an antihistamine used for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. It is chemically different from other antihistamines, and is only used as a nasal spray. This medication is furthermore effective in relieving nasal congestion and postnasal drip.

Azelastine may cause drowsiness and should not be combined with alcohol or any other medication that may add to its sedative effect.

The spray should only be used in the nose, and contact with the eyes should be avoided.

How does azelastine work?

Azelastine works by blocking the effect of histamine - the chemical released when an allergic reaction occurs. It also appears to stabilise mast cells - cells that release inflammatory messengers that triggers allergic reactions. It should thereby prevent and treat allergic sinusitis.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 2

Available as: Nasal spray

What does it do ? Azelastine is an antihistamine medication.

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependency risk: Low

Available as a generic? No

Available on prescription only ? No

User information

Onset of effect: Within 3 hours

Duration of action: Up to 12 hours.

Stopping: This medication can be safely stopped when no longer needed.

Prolonged use: Azelastine is not intended for long-term chronic use, but only as symptomatic treatment for seasonal hay fever.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have kidney or liver disease,
  • you are pregnant or planning to fall pregnant,
  • you have heart disease,
  • you are scheduled to have surgery,
  • you are allergic to azelastine, or
  • you are taking other medication.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 5 years.

Elderly: No special precautions.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how it affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol as it may add to the drug's sedative effects.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Bitter taste

x

x

Drowsiness

x

x

Local irritation/ burning

x

x

Nosebleed

x

x

Dry mouth

x

x

Sneezing

x

x

Weight gain

x

x

Sore throat

x

x

Palpitations

x

x

Chest pain

x

x

Anxiety

x

x

Change in mood

x

x

Diarrhoea

x

x

Change in sense of smell

x

x

Muscle pain

x

x

Rash/ swelling

x

x

Dizziness

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

Drugs that may cause sedation (antihistamines, benzodiazepines, etc)

Increased risk of sedation

Cimetidine

Increased risk of azelastine toxicity

Other antihistamines

Increased risk of sedation

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have kidney or liver disease, are pregnant or planning to fall pregnant, or if you have heart disease.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 2 sprays in each nostril twice a day for up to 8 weeks.

Children (5-12 years of age): 1 spray in each nostril twice a day. Azelastine is not recommended for use in children younger than 5 years of age.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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