Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists (LTRA)

Leukotrienes are part of the complex inflammatory pathway of asthma. When activated, they cause bronchoconstriction and increase vascular permeability (leakage of fluid out of blood vessels into surrounding tissues) causing swelling. They also cause increased mucus production. All these are features of poorly controlled asthma.

Leukotriene antagonists are considered ‘add on’ therapies to inhaled asthma medication. If symptoms are still troublesome despite patients being on medium dose inhaler steroids and a long acting bronchodilator (LAMA).

They may be especially beneficial for night time symptoms, if there are nasal symptoms (rhinitis) or hay fever. They can be helpful in exercise induced asthma.

Drug name:

  • Montelukast – Singulair.

LTRA are available in tablets and are taken at night. It can be taken with or after food.

It can take up to 2 weeks to notice any benefits from starting LTRA.

As with all medicines there is a risk of side effects. Common side effects are reported as abdominal pain, headache and thirst.  Often side effects can lessen or disappear after 2-3 weeks.