Asthafen

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Asthafen (ketotifen) is an antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer, used to prevent asthma and other allergic attacks. The medication inhibits release of chemicals that might otherwise cause inflammation, bronchospasm, itchiness, and other symptoms of allergic reactions.

In tablet form, Asthafen's primary use is in prevention; it reduces the frequency and severity of attacks. In treating an ongoing attack, results are mixed; some patients find it works well in minimizing symptoms, while others find it does nothing. As a general rule it should not be relied on as a rescue treatment, though it will likely reduce need for rescue treatments.

Ophthalmic preparations are sold under different names; Asthafen refers to tablets. Ophthalmic preparations are suitable for both prevention and treatment of allergies in the eyes, working within minutes to clear up the redness, itchiness, tenderness and other symptoms. Tablets may do so to some extent, but effects are not nearly as pronounced in the eyes as when an ophthalmic solution is used. The remainder of this article is about Asthafen tablets.

Asthafen is suitable for use in patients age 2 and up, though young patients will require modified dosing.

Managing Allergies with Asthafen

Asthafen is effective at preventing, and to a lesser degree treating, allergic reactions of many kinds, including:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Urticaria
  • Food allergy

There is also some evidence that Asthafen can help with irritable bowel syndrome, though why exactly it does so is not entirely clear.

As mentioned above, Asthafen is largely a preventive treatment. For example, it may reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, but when an asthma attack does occur, taking additional Asthafen tablets is unlikely to help much. Similarly with food allergies; it may suppress symptoms, but if an attack does occur, more tablets are unlikely to provide benefit. With serious, potentially life-threatening conditions, always carry a rescue treatment for use if needed.

Treatment is similar in most cases, but there is some variation according to the condition, its severity, patient age, weight, and other personal factors. In general:

  • Start with 0.5 to 1 mg per day, once per day, taken at bedtime.
  • If needed dosage may be increased to 2 or 4 mg per day, in divided doses.
  • The majority of patients find sufficient relief with 1 mg twice per day, taken morning and evening.
  • Children over age 2 may be given 1 mg per day, usually in an oral solution prepared by the pharmacy.

Tablets are best taken with food. Most patients, within a week or two of starting treatment, begin to notice a reduction in allergic symptoms. Those taking Asthafen to prevent seasonable or predictable exposure to allergies should start treatment 2 to 4 weeks prior to exposure and continue throughout exposure.

Precautions & Adverse Effects

Side effects from Asthafen are fairly rare, usually mild and transient. The most commonly reported side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sedation
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability

The above are not cause for concern unless severe or persistant, in which case a doctor should be consulted. As the medication causes sedation in some patients, use caution when driving or performing other potentially-dangerous tasks until effects are known.

Asthafen can interact with other medications. Of particular concern are:

  • Alcohol
  • Codeine
  • Bupropion
  • Donepezil
  • Diphenhydramine

There may be additional medications that interact with Asthafen; double-check with a doctor or pharmacist before mixing treatments.

Discuss Asthafen use with a doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Asthafen

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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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