Fluconazole is an antifungal medicine.
It is taken as a single 150 mg dose for vaginal thrush. You can take it at any time of day, either before or after a meal.
Longer courses of treatment are prescribed for other types of fungal infections.
|Type of medicine||An antifungal medicine|
|Used for||Fungal infections|
|Available as||Capsules, oral liquid medicine and injection|
Many types of fungi live harmlessly on our skin. However, some types of fungi can thrive and multiply on the surface of our bodies and cause infections of the skin, mouth or vagina. The most common fungi to cause skin infections are the tinea group of fungi. A common fungal infection of the mouth and vagina is called thrush. This is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast (which is a type of fungus) called Candida.
Fungal infections sometimes occur within the body also. You are more at risk of developing an internal fungal infection if your immune system does not work properly. For example, if you are having chemotherapy, or if you are taking medicines for rheumatic disease, or if you have HIV/AIDS. Internal fungal infections can be serious.
You will have been prescribed fluconazole to treat a fungal infection, or to help prevent a fungal infection from developing. It works by killing yeast and fungi. Fluconazole is available on prescription, and it can also be bought at pharmacies, without a prescription, for the treatment of vaginal thrush.
Before taking fluconazole
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking fluconazole it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have a heart rhythm problem.
- If you have problems with the way your liver works, or any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have a rare inherited blood condition called porphyria.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines. This is important because fluconazole can interfere with a number of other medicines and cause problems.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take fluconazole
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about fluconazole and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- There are several strengths of fluconazole capsule available - 50 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you what dose to take and how often to take it, as this will depend upon the nature of your infection/condition. The dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you of what was said. Fluconazole can be taken at any time of day, and can be taken either before or after a meal. Swallow the capsule with a drink of water.
- Infections such as vaginal thrush can be treated with a single 150 mg dose; other infections require a course of treatment possibly lasting a number of weeks.
- If you have been prescribed a course of treatment, remember to continue taking the capsules/medicine until the course is finished. Fluconazole is usually prescribed as a once-daily dose. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Remember to keep any regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. If you are taking a course of fluconazole, you may need to have a blood test to check that it is not affecting your liver if you are taking it for more than one month.
- If your symptoms do not improve despite taking fluconazole, speak again with your pharmacist or doctor so that your infection can be investigated further.
- If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with fluconazole.
Can fluconazole cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with fluconazole. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common fluconazole side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, stomach ache, diarrhoea||Stick to simple foods and drink plenty of water|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Skin rash||Let your doctor know about this|
|Changes to some blood test results||Your doctor will check for these if needed|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to fluconazole, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store fluconazole
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Diflucan® 150 Capsules; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2014.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Diflucan® Caps 50 mg, 200 mg; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2014.
- British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr John Cox