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What Is Azelastine Used For?

Why Is Azelastine Used for Non-Allergic Nasal Symptoms?

Sometimes, people have nasal symptoms (such as nasal congestion, runny nose, or itchy nose) that are not cause by allergens. This is called non-allergic rhinitis. There are many different causes, including irritants, infections, or other causes.
 
When non-allergic rhinitis is caused by an exaggerated response to irritants (such as smoke, cold air, or perfume), it is known as vasomotor rhinitis. The symptoms can be identical to those of nasal allergies, so it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two.
 
Usually, allergy testing is required to diagnose non-allergic rhinitis (including vasomotor rhinitis) to make sure that allergies do not play a factor. Azelastine is approved to treat vasomotor rhinitis, but not other types of non-allergic rhinitis.
 
Again, only Astelin (not Astepro) is approved for this particular use.
 

How Does Azelastine Work?

Allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance -- one that does not bother most people. This reaction is partly caused by the release of histamine from certain cells, known as mast cells.
 
Azelastine is an antihistamine nasal spray that acts in at least two different ways. It helps prevent the release of histamine from mast cells, and if any histamine is released, azelastine prevents it from binding to histamine receptors. Since histamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of allergies, blocking it can be helpful.
 
It is not known exactly how or why azelastine works for vasomotor rhinitis. Traditionally, it was thought that antihistamines were generally ineffective for this condition, since vasomotor rhinitis does not involve an allergic reaction or immune system response. However, studies have shown that azelastine helps with this condition.
 
Many allergy decongestant nasal sprays (especially non-prescription nasal sprays) can cause rebound congestion, which is worsening congestion when the medication is stopped. This can lead to dependence on the nasal spray. In order to avoid this problem, it is usually recommended that such medications be used only for a few days.
 
However, azelastine is not a decongestant and does not cause rebound congestion; therefore, it can safely be used on a long-term basis.
 
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