woman with allergies, allergy meds, NasalCrom for years

If you suffer from hay fever or other fall allergies, you may already be miserable. On the other hand, you might be dreading the weeks ahead. Will you be sneezing, sniffling and suffering itchy eyes and a feeling of being in a fog? There are many nasal sprays available for nasal congestion, but most should be used only for a few days. Otherwise, you could develop rebound congestion and find it difficult to stop using the spray.  Instead, we are partial to a preventative nasal spray, cromolyn sodium. It makes the mast cells in the nose less likely to release histamine and cause trouble, but you must use it at least two or three times a day, starting before allergy season actually kicks in. Some readers have wondered if it is safe to use NasalCrom for years.

How Safe Is NasalCrom Over the Long Term?

Q. I have been using NasalCrom for years, usually two times a day in allergy seasons and once per day as a preventative the rest of the time. Is there any harm in taking it every day over a long term?

A. Cromolyn (the active ingredient in NasalCrom) is considered safe and effective as a long-term maintenance treatment for asthma (Sleep & Breathing, Dec. 2012).  We got a bit nervous when we spotted a study linking it to amyloid beta in the brain. However, the research shows that rather than exacerbating the risk of Alzheimer disease, it appears to reduce it in mice designed to develop this condition (Journal of Biological Chemistry, Jan. 23, 2015).  There’s a big leap from mice to humans, but the results suggest that NasalCrom might not pose a problem in the long term. Sadly, scientists rarely do methodical studies of medications to determine their long-term safety.

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  1. Andykaufmantony

    My 9 year old son has had a runny nose since he was 1, and did the scratch test for allergies twice. Both times it said he had a mild reaction to something, but they were different somethings both times. The allergist and ENT agreed he’s probably allergic to something uncommon as well. It’s very frustrating because all that extra mucus means he’s very susceptible to sinus infections and he has to do several weeks of antibiotics when that happens. But, I find that nasal spray antihistamines work nicely for us since his symptoms are all nasal.

  2. Jill
    Chapel Hill, NC

    I remembered one of your columns from a while ago and started using NasalCrom. It has worked great! I can breathe at night! The ENT doctor had prescribed one of the nasal sprays containing steroids, in spite of my pointing out that I have cataracts and am glaucoma suspect. He didn’t understand my concern. I was thus doubly pleased to find NasalCrom.

    I have had trouble locating it in local drug stores, however. Fortunately, I can usually find it online. Thanks for the info.

  3. Carolyn

    I don’t believe in taking any medicine of that sort forever. I would instead irrigate with warm salt water every morning. My dentist suggested that.

  4. Laura

    Can you use nasalcrom if you have high blood pressure, (itake lowdose Lisinopril, have diabetes (no meds) have eye pressure drops, (timolol maleate 0.5),. I have nasal drip itchy throat when I lay down. Can this help me???

  5. Emily

    I used Nasal Crom for allergies for a year. I woke up 1 Saturday morning with a nose bleed. It lasted all day and I had to go to the ER because the bleeding would not stop. My Doctor said this could be 1 of the side effects of the Nasal Crom and I had to quit using the spray.

  6. John

    While this comment is specific to Nasalcrom I would like to make a general point of advice. You give great suggestions but sometimes leave out important information. Actually the same goes for some suggestions given by readers. I have allergies and thought of trying your suggestion. I was grocery shopping and in the aisle quickly found the bottle and purchased it. When I got home I took another look; the name didn’t quite look right, so I checked again. It turns out that I picked of Nasacort instead of Nasalcrom.
    Suggestion: When 2 medicines have very similar names, please include that in your writeup.
    So I took the Nasacort back but couldn’t find Nasalcrom. I asked the pharmacist but he never heard of it. So next I went to one of the big drugstore chains where the same thing happened. I immediately saw Nasacort but not Nasalcrom. I asked the pharmacist who also never heard of it. At this point I did what my grandchildren would probably do first: looked on the internet and found a nearby grocery store that carries it.
    Suggestion: When a medicine is not widely available, please include that in your writeup.
    Next I went to that store but still couldn’t find Nasalcrom. I asked the pharmacist who also couldn’t find it but went back to check and said that they have it in stock. Eventually I found it: it was in the wrong place and they only had a couple of bottles that would last a person maybe a month. Clearly it’s not a big seller. The point is that you have to be persistent, at least in my area, to get a hold of Nasalcrom.

  7. Joanne
    Lexington, VA

    I’ve used NasalCrom on and off for over 20 years. At first as a prescription drug. I love it as it has no side effects and seems to work very well for me. Using it consistently is sometimes problematic for me, but otherwise its a great allergy drug.

    • Linda
      New Jersey

      I am very happy using nasalcrom. I have completely stopped antihistamines as I realized I had trouble retrieving words after a week of starting them.
      Both Shoprite and Wal-Mart have no problem ordering it for me from the internet. If thay never heard of it tell them to look it up, while your standing there
      Cannot tell you how many people I have gotten to make the Same change.

  8. JAS

    I do not want to condemn any OTCs that help people, but I often wonder if these general types of antihistamines ever played a role in my relative’s mental illness. He had always had severe nasal allergies: constant sneezing, running nose, etc., so he took antihistamines to stop the symptoms. But he had been using them for what seemed like years, so I often wonder if the chemicals in these antihistamines somehow effected his brain long term –(or had absolutely nothing to do with it)? He was diagnosed with late-onset schizophrenia at age 37. Up until that age, when he started to show psychotic symptoms, he had no mental health problems, never smoked a day in his life, never touch any illegal or medical drugs at all — I don’t think he even ever took an aspirin or a Tylenol either — and late-onset is believed to be very rare. With all medications, it’s critically important to use as directed and under a doctor’s supervision & be extremely careful with over-the-counter medications because ALL medications prescribed OR OTC have side effects.

  9. RWW

    I have used Nasal Crom for 30 years and have had no side effects so far.

  10. GMa
    Reidsville, NC

    I’ve started using NasalCrom after reading about it here.. Mine says allergy 24 HR, so it’s once a day. Just saw it says triamcinolone acetonide(glucocorticoid) 55mcg/spray.
    What I’m using is not what you are calling for,. How safe is this.

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