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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

Is My Toddler's Behavior Change Because of Their Medicine?

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Question
I've noticed behavioral changes (ex. aggressive tone that he did not have before) in my 3.5-year-old child since he was diagnosed with asthma. Could it be related to his medicine?
Answer

It is not always easy to tell the difference between age-appropriate, toddler behavior and the side effects of asthma medicines. Unfortunately, behavioral changes can happen with common asthma medicines. For example, hyperactivity, aggression, mood swings, and agitation can occur with the use of inhaled corticosteroids, such as budesonide or fluticasone. Also, asthma relief medicines or bronchodilators, such as albuterol can cause nervousness and tremor.

Montelukast can be used to control and prevent asthma symptoms in children. However, it could cause behavior and mood-related changes, like agitation, aggression, and hostility. Discuss these concerns with your childโ€™s health care provider. If possible, consult with an allergy and asthma specialist. There may be options for adjusting the medicine dose or changing to another asthma medication to help prevent these side effects.

NOTE: Montelukast (brand name SINGULAIRยฎ) has a black box warning. This is a safety warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means you need to be aware of a drugโ€™s side effects or important instructions for safe use of the drug. We encourage you to speak with your health care provider before, during, and after the start of any new medicine. If your doctor recommends montelukast, talk with them about possible risks and concerns.

Categories
Asthma, Medicines
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelorโ€™s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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