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Is It Safe to Use NasalCrom for Years?

Some people control their allergies with the preventative nasal spray NasalCrom for years. No red flags have been raised about long-term safety.
Is It Safe to Use NasalCrom for Years?
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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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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