Can you get Cromolyn over the counter?

Reviewed by:
Angela DiLaura, NP
Clinical Informatics and Quality Manager
Last updated on January 5, 2022

Maybe. (Depending on the use and type of cromolyn you need)

Cromolyn, also called cromolyn sodium, may be prescribed as a medication for nasal allergies or for asthma. If you are looking for treatment of nasal allergies as a way of helping with asthma relief over the counter, some drugs are available online or in stores. A prescription is not needed for the nasal cromolyn spray, Nasalcrom.

There is also a cromolyn solution to use in nebulizer compressors for treating asthma, and it needs a prescription to obtain.

It is also worth noting that there is another version of cromolyn, which is an oral medication that treats a condition called mastocytosis. Its brand name is Gastrocrom and requires a prescription.

What is cromolyn and how does it work?

In the over-the-counter version of cromolyn for treating nasal allergies or asthma related to allergies, the ability of the medicine to stabilize mast cells reduces the amount of inflammatory chemicals like histamine released by mast cells. When there are fewer histamines, the allergy symptoms decrease. Cromolyn may also reduce the rate of airways narrowing in the lungs.

What’s the benefit of cromolyn (versus other drugs)?

It stands out from the antihistamines commonly used to treat allergies. The difference is that cromolyn reduces the production of histamines, while antihistamines reduce those histamines’ actions after they are already produced.

Who should take cromolyn?

The best doctors for asthma frequently suggest cromolyn for patients who have asthma and are at least two years old. It is safe for both adults and children.

Importantly, cromolyn is used as a maintenance medication, not as a rescue inhaler to use during an asthma attack. Patients are likely to use cromolyn daily, as well as right before being exposed to triggers of asthma or allergies.

For the best results at preventing an asthma attack from a trigger, patients should use cromolyn within an hour before the trigger. For example, patients could use it within an hour before exercising to reduce the risk of exercise-induced asthma.

It is also worth noting that cromolyn is most commonly recommended for cases of mild or moderate asthma. Severe cases will likely require a different and additional asthma prescription online.

Can cromolyn be used as an asthma attack medication (rescue inhaler)?

No. It is designed to be preventative, not to stop current attacks. It does not offer instant relief from asthma.

What symptoms can cromolyn reduce?

This type of asthma medication can reduce the frequency of symptoms but will not relieve them right away. Some of the asthma symptoms that it can reduce include:

·   Cough

·   Chest tightness

·   Wheezing

·   Shortness of breath

What is the appropriate dose of cromolyn?

When writing an online asthma prescription for cromolyn, your doctor will outline the appropriate dose for you. That dose will vary whether you use the nebulizer solution or inhaler version of the medicine. For the nebulizer solution, every 2 mL ampule contains 20 mg. The common maintenance use is four times every day.

For the NasalCrom inhaler, most patients use one spray in each of their nostrils between three and four times each day. Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe using it more often or less often.

Patients can also use cromolyn “as needed”, such as within an hour of anticipated exposure to an asthma or allergy trigger.

How do you use Cromolyn?

During your video call with your online asthma doctor, they will give you detailed instructions to ensure you know how to use your cromolyn prescription. The common asthma inhaler is very straightforward if you have experience with other inhalers. Insert the canister into the mouthpiece, remove the cap from the mouthpiece, and shake the inhaler before using. Your doctor may suggest the open-mouth or closed-mouth method.

Side effects

The following are possible side effects of cromolyn:

·   Headache

·   Diarrhea

·   Nausea

·   Irritability

·   Abdominal pain

·   Trouble sleeping

·   Muscle pain

If you notice any of the following rare side effects, let your doctor know right away:

·   Difficulty swallowing

·   Difficulty breathing

·   Throat swelling

·   Wheezing caused by the medication

·   Swelling of the eyelids, lips, or face

·   Itching or hives on the skin

Don’t take cromolyn if…

Don’t take cromolyn if you’re allergic to it or have had an allergic reaction to any ingredient in it before. To be safe, always consult your doctor before taking a new medicine if you’ve previously had any allergic reactions to medicine.

The smartest option is to always discuss your medications and conditions with your HealthTap doctor. This is a crucial when you go to get an asthma prescription online because your doctor will know if you have any contraindications—i.e. reasons you should not take cromolyn.

Other online over-the-counter medicines

Regardless of the version of cromolyn that you might need, you can easily work with doctors at HealthTap. The telemedicine service connects you with our primary care online asthma doctors to manage chronic conditions, such as asthma or nasal allergies, and to handle refill prescriptions for asthma.

Our doctors can help you choose between cromolyn sodium and antihistamines for your nasal allergies or as treatment options for asthma.

Schedule an appointment today.

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap articles are reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Visit https://www.healthtap.com/about-doctors/ to learn more and meet some of the medical editorial board members behind our blog. The information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. HealthTap is a virtual-first, affordable urgent- and primary-care clinic, providing top-quality physician care nationwide to Americans with or without insurance. Our proprietary, easy-to-use, and innovative apps and electronic medical record apply Silicon Valley standards to effectively engage consumers and doctors online to increase the equity, accessibility, and efficiency of ongoing medical care for consumers, providers, employers, and payers. In addition, with HealthTap, businesses can offer virtual primary care to employees for less than the cost of free coffee. HealthTap's US-based board-certified physicians are available throughout North America. For more information, visit www.healthtap.com.
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