Top 7 Mast Cell Stabilizers for Allergies (2024)

Allergies rank as the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the US, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). With an ever-increasing number of individuals affected, finding treatment is essential to help prevent the worst symptoms.

Mast cell stabilizers are a type of medication that can help. According to a study, while these compounds' exact mechanism of action is not always precise, their ability to stabilize mast cells suggests potential in treating allergic and related diseases where mast cells play a crucial role.

This article talks about different types of mast cell stabilizers. We'll discuss the different brands, their work, and what they're used for. Keep reading to learn about the best mast cell stabilizers that can make life with allergies much more accessible.

What Are Mast Cell Stabilizers and How Do They Work?

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell found in tissues and near blood vessels and play a key role in inflammatory and immune system responses.

When these cells encounter an allergen, they release various mediators like histamine and leukotrienes, leading to allergic reaction symptoms.

Mast cell stabilizers help prevent asthma and allergic reactions by stopping mast cells, a kind of immune response cell, from releasing inflammatory substances. By stopping this release, mast cell stabilizers effectively reduce the symptoms associated with allergic reactions and certain immune disorders.

🩹 Health NoteWhile mast cell stabilizers can help prevent allergy symptoms, they do not treat the underlying cause. Allergy shots or immunotherapy may help desensitize the immune system to allergens over time.

Mast cell stabilizers are commonly the preferred treatment for allergic conjunctivitis, which explains their widespread availability in the form of eye drops.

Common Side Effects of Mast Cell Stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers are widely recognized as safe and effective for adult use. Typically, they are well-tolerated, and any side effects tend to be mild. The side effects will depend on what dosage form you’re using, whether that's in the form of nasal sprays or eye drops, which are the following:

  • Temporary irritation at the point of application
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Stomach upset (for oral route)

Top 7 Mast Cell Stabilizers for Allergies

We understand the struggles that come with managing allergies. That is why we've researched and compiled some of the mast cell stabilizers available. In compiling our list, we've considered factors like active ingredients, overall effectiveness, and side effects.

Our selection is designed to cater to those seeking relief from a range of allergy symptoms, whether seasonal discomfort or year-round.

NasalCrom is known for managing nasal allergy symptoms like sneezing and stuffiness. We recommend this product for individuals looking for non-drowsy allergy relief. A study found cromolyn sodium 4% nasal solution to be effective and well-tolerated, supporting its use as an over-the-counter treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis.

This innovative nasal spray contains Cromolyn sodium, which prevents the release of histamines and other irritants that lead to inflammation. This nasal spray costs $21.87.

Possible side effects include allergic reactions (skin rash, itching, hives, swelling), wheezing or trouble breathing, cough, dryness or irritation inside the nose, headache, nausea, and sneezing.

Pros

  • Targets and stabilizes mast cells to prevent allergy symptoms from starting
  • Contains 200 sprays per bottle, offering long-lasting relief
  • Non-drowsy and non-habit-forming
  • Safe for children and adults
  • It can be used alongside other allergy medications

Cons

  • Initial use may not provide immediate symptom relief; best results are seen with regular use
  • It may cause minor side effects such as nasal dryness or irritation

This nasal spray is engineered to target and alleviate symptoms associated with the nose, such as sneezing, itching, and runny or stuffy noses, which are common in allergic reactions. However, its scope does not extend to treating allergy symptoms beyond nasal passages.

NasalCrom is designed to be a user-friendly application, with 200 sprays per bottle, and is non-habit forming. It’s also safe for children over two years old, with a steroid-free formula that offers comfort and relief from allergy symptoms. This makes it an ideal addition to the medicine cabinet for families seeking a safe and effective way to combat nasal allergies.

Systane Zaditor eye drops provide swift and prolonged relief from the discomfort of eye allergies caused by pollen, pet dander, and grass. These eye drops contain ketotifen, which,

according to a study, 0.025% of this ophthalmic solution effectively reduced and prevented the recurrence of signs and symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC).

Zaditor is known for its prescription-strength formula that provides relief from itchy eyes within minutes, lasting for up to 12 hours. A bottle of Zaditor eye drops typically costs $9.95.

Pros

  • Delivers rapid relief, working within minutes to alleviate itchy eyes
  • Provides prolonged comfort, with effects lasting up to 12 hours after a single drop
  • It does not contain vasoconstrictors

Cons

  • Limited to treating eye itchiness, not a comprehensive allergy remedy
  • It may cause side effects such as eye irritation or an unpleasant taste in the mouth

Zaditor does not contain a vasoconstrictor, making it safe for regular use, even in children over three. We also love that it's easy to apply. It has a precision dropper that allows for accurate dosing and prevents contamination. It's ideal for those who want a solution that alleviates the discomfort of allergic eye irritation.

We recommend Alaway, which also contains ketotifen if you want quick relief from eye itching caused by common allergens such as pollen, grass, and animal dander. Available for $11.99, its ease of use and long-lasting effect make it a top choice for allergy sufferers seeking comfort from environmental irritants.

Pros

  • Works fast within minutes
  • Delivers up to 12 hours of consistent symptom control
  • Offers prescription-strength care for fast relief

Cons

  • Not suitable for those sensitive to any of the ingredients
  • It cannot be used to treat irritation from contact lenses

Alaways’s key ingredient, ketotifen, acts as a potent antihistamine. It alleviates eye allergy symptoms within minutes, and its effects last up to 12 hours. This potent formula allows users to manage their symptoms effectively without waiting for oral medications to take effect. It’s also suitable for adults and children aged three and older.

We recommend Lastacaft for its rapid action. It contains alcaftadine, a combination of antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer, which alleviates discomfort in as little as three minutes and sustains its effect for up to 16 hours. Its formula is designed to both block the histamine receptors and prevent additional histamine release in the eyes—key factors in allergic reactions. You can get two bottles of Lastacaft drops for only $13.49.

Pros

  • Rapid relief from itchy eyes, starting in just three minutes
  • Extended protection that lasts up to 16 hours with just one drop
  • Suitable for both adults and children as young as two years old
  • One bottle lasts for 60 days

Cons

  • Prescription-strength formula, which may not be necessary for all users

Suitable for adults and children aged two and older, Lastacaft is an easy-to-use, once-daily solution for itchy eyes caused by various allergens, including pollen, grass, and pet dander. A study cites alcaftadine, its active ingredient, as a safe, effective, and competitively priced once-daily option for preventing ocular itching in allergic conjunctivitis.

It provides twice as much per bottle as other brands, translating to a generous 60-day supply. Its mechanism of action targets the root cause of itchiness, offering users temporary relief and a defense against the recurrence of symptoms throughout the day.

Pataday is another fast-acting combination of antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer we recommend for treating allergic conjunctivitis. It contains olopatadine and provides 24-hour relief from itchy eyes caused by common allergens such as pollen, ragweed, grass, and pet dander. Research suggests olopatadine is safe and effective, even for those with a history of allergic conjunctivitis. You only need to administer one drop to each eye once daily to relieve eye allergy. Two bottles of Pataday drops cost $21.96.

Pros

  • Provides fast relief from eye allergies, working in just minutes
  • Offers 24-hour comfort with a single application per day
  • Contains the top doctor-prescribed ingredient for eye allergy relief
  • Available without a prescription, making it easily accessible

Cons

  • It may not be suitable for individuals with sensitivities to specific ingredients
  • Effectiveness can vary based on individual allergies and reactions

Designed for convenience and efficacy, Pataday is ideal for anyone seeking quick and lasting relief from allergic eye irritation. Its user-friendly application makes it suitable for a wide range of users, including those who have struggled with other allergy eye drops in the past.

Pataday's formulation targets the cells for itchy eyes, ensuring users experience significant relief without frequent reapplication.

If you’re looking for a natural mast cell stabilizer alternative, quercetin is a great option. Research has shown that quercetin can stabilize mast cell membranes and reduce histamine release. It may also reduce swelling by blocking the release of inflammatory substances, which may help soothe severe allergic reactions. 120 servings of this supplement cost $19.89.

Pros

  • Each capsule delivers a potent 500mg of quercetin
  • The bottle contains 120 servings for long-term supply
  • Supports immune function and has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Offers a natural alternative to traditional allergy medications

Cons

  • Capsules may be large and difficult to swallow for some
  • It is not an ideal solution for quickly relieving allergy symptoms

Quercetin supplements are gaining recognition for their potential benefits in managing allergy symptoms. Quercetin is known for its antioxidant properties and ability to inhibit histamine production, which is often responsible for allergy symptoms.

With 500mg of quercetin per serving, this product offers a substantial dose that may help reduce reactions such as runny nose, watery eyes, and swelling. It's encapsulated in a convenient veggie capsule form, with each bottle providing 120 servings.

🩺 A Doctor’s Note

Quercetin is a natural flavonoid found in certain fruits and vegetables. More research is needed on its efficacy and optimal dosage for allergies specifically. Quercetin supplements can interact with some medications.

We recommend Astepro nasal spray, which contains azelastine, for quick and effective relief from allergies that works within 30 minutes of the first application. It’s an excellent antihistamine nasal spray that is available over-the-counter, and provides 24-hour relief from nasal allergy symptoms. Priced at $30.32, may come at a premium, but its rapid onset of action can enhance patient adherence to the treatment regimen.

Pros

  • Starts to alleviate allergy symptoms in just 30 minutes
  • Provides full-day relief from nasal allergy symptoms
  • Steroid-free formula, minimizing potential side effects
  • Offers flexible dosing options for personalized use

Cons

  • Some individuals might need a prescription-strength option
  • The effects can vary based on individual health conditions and the severity of allergies

Astepro, with its potent formulation, offers fast and long-lasting relief from indoor and outdoor allergies, featuring flexible dosing once or twice daily. A study highlights the effectiveness of this dosing regimen for 0.1% azelastine, showing action onset within 2 to 3 hours in treating allergic rhinitis.

Overall, Astepro is an excellent solution for those needing rapid and long-lasting allergy symptom relief without the use of steroids and the day-to-day management of nasal allergies.

Final Words

The top three mast cell stabilizers available for allergy relief are NasalCrom Nasal Spray, Zaditor Eye Drops, and Bausch + Lomb Alaway Eye Drops. NasalCrom is a top choice for nasal allergy symptoms, providing long-lasting, non-drowsy relief. Zaditor offers immediate and prolonged relief from itchy eyes caused by allergens. Lastly, Bausch + Lomb Alaway quickly alleviates eye itchiness and offers up to 12 hours of symptom control.

Mast cell stabilizers offer targeted, localized relief for allergy symptoms caused by histamine release. Nasal sprays can provide targeted relief for nasal congestion and sinus issues, while eye drops are ideal for combating ocular allergies. However, always consult a doctor before using these medications, as they can help you identify the most suitable mast cell stabilizer for your specific needs.

FAQs on Mast Cell Stabilizers for Allergies

Are mast cell stabilizers available over the counter?

Yes, some OTC mast cell stabilizers are available without a prescription, such as nasal sprays or eye drops. However, oral mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn and ketotifen, typically require a prescription.

How long does it take for mast cell stabilizers to work?

Mast cell stabilizers usually begin to show effectiveness within 2 to 5 days of starting treatment. You can get their benefits around 15 days after beginning therapy. You must use them consistently for these medications to work effectively over several weeks.

When is the best time to use mast cell stabilizers?

To get the best results from mast cell stabilizers, start taking them about two weeks before your allergy season begins and keep using them during the whole season. They're good for eye allergies that happen at certain times of the year.

Can mast cell stabilizers also improve my asthma symptoms?

Yes, mast cell stabilizers can help with asthma by stopping specific cells from releasing stuff that can tighten your airways. They're good for stopping asthma attacks before they start but don't help stop an attack once it's already happening.

Is it safe to use mast cell stabilizers during pregnancy?

NasalCrom nasal spray is safe to use when you're pregnant, though it might not work as well as other sprays, and it can take a while to see its effects. This could be a good choice if you can't use other sprays. However, it's still best to always talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new medication while pregnant.

Are mast cell stabilizers safe to use with other allergy medications?

Yes. Since most mast cell stabilizers do not offer immediate symptom relief, combining them with other allergy medications like steroids or antihistamines can be beneficial.

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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.

Jeff Caba, DHSc, PA-C.

Clinical Physician Assistant, Summit Health

Jeff brings to Buoy 20 years of clinical experience as a physician assistant in urgent care and internal medicine. He also has extensive experience in healthcare administration, most recently as developer and director of an urgent care center. While completing his doctorate in Health Sciences at A.T. Still University, Jeff studied population health, healthcare systems, and evidence-based medicine....Read full bio

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