Make sure you know how to use your inhaler properly.
Fluticasone is a preventer inhaler and should be used regularly for maximum benefit.
It will not give you immediate relief if you are having an asthma attack. Your doctor will prescribe a reliever inhaler for you to use if you have an asthma attack.
It is particularly important that your asthma should be well controlled if you are pregnant. Make sure your doctor knows if you are expecting or trying for a baby.
About fluticasone inhalers
|Type of medicine||Corticosteroid (steroid) inhaler|
|Also called||Flixotide®; Seretide® (fluticasone with salmeterol); Flutiform® (fluticasone with formoterol)|
|Available as||Dry powder inhaler, aerosol inhaler and nebules (to use with a nebuliser)|
Inhalers are the main treatment for asthma. The medicine inside the inhaler goes straight into your airways when you breathe in. This means that your airways and lungs are treated, but little of the medicine gets into the rest of your body.
Fluticasone is a preventer inhaler. Use it every day to prevent your symptoms from developing. Steroids like fluticasone work by reducing the inflammation in your airways. When the inflammation has gone, your airways are much less likely to become narrow and cause symptoms such as wheezing.
Fluticasone is available on its own in an inhaler, and also in combination with other medicines, such as salmeterol or formoterol. These are medicines which also help to control the symptoms of asthma.
Before using a fluticasone inhaler
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 using a fluticasone inhaler it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. This is because it is particularly important that your asthma should be well controlled if you are expecting a baby, and your doctor will want to advise you about your care.
- If you have an infection in your eyes or mouth, or a chest infection.
- If you have ever had pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to use a fluticasone inhaler
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack and any other printed information you are given. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of fluticasone inhaler you have been given, and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from using it.
- Use the inhaler twice daily unless you have been told otherwise. Your doctor will tell you how many puffs to use each time. Try to use it at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to use it regularly. Make sure you know how to use your inhaler device properly. If you are not sure, ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist to show you.
- Some people using steroid inhalers find that the back of their throats can become sore. If you rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth after using your inhaler, this is less likely to develop.
- Your doctor may give you a spacer device to use with your inhaler. A spacer device can be particularly helpful for children and for people who struggle to co-ordinate breathing in and pressing the inhaler. It will help to make sure that the medicine travels right into your lungs. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will be able to advise you on using the device.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Fluticasone is a preventer inhaler which needs to be used regularly in order to have an effect. It takes a few days for the steroid in the inhaler to build up its effect.
- Fluticasone inhalers will not give you immediate relief if you are having an asthma attack - you will need to use a reliever inhaler to ease the symptoms of an attack.
- If after using the inhaler for the first time your breathing becomes worse or you suddenly start to wheeze, let your doctor know straightaway. Your doctor will want to change the type of inhaler to one more suited to you.
- It is helpful to remember the colour of your inhaler and the brand name. This might be important if you need to see a doctor who does not have your medical records (such as if you are on holiday or if it is outside the normal opening hours of your GP surgery).
- Keep your regular appointments with your doctor or asthma clinic. This is so your doctor can review your treatment. If at any time you find that your asthma symptoms are getting worse or that you need to use a reliever inhaler more regularly, contact your doctor or nurse for advice straightaway.
- If you are using a high dose of fluticasone, you will also be given a steroid card. You are advised to carry the card with you at all times in case you need any treatment by a doctor who does not have your medical records available.
- Continue to use your fluticasone inhaler regularly. Do not stop using it abruptly, as this can make you feel unwell and cause your symptoms to return suddenly.
- Do not smoke. Smoking can cause severe irritation and damage to your lungs. It will make your condition worse and will reduce the beneficial effects of your inhalers.
- If you have diabetes, tell your doctor if you notice any change in your blood glucose tests, as fluticasone may affect the levels of sugar in your blood.
Can fluticasone inhalers cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, inhalers like most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with fluticasone. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your inhaler. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common fluticasone side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Sore throat, oral thrush, hoarse voice||Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable preparation. Rinsing your mouth out with water or brushing your teeth after you use your inhalers can help prevent this|
|Chest infections, skin bruises||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Using high doses of inhaled steroids over a long time may aggravate mental health problems, and also be a risk factor for some eye problems and osteoporosis. Also, children who use an inhaled steroid over a long time should have their growth monitored. If you are concerned about any of these rare effects, you should discuss them with your doctor.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the inhaler, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store fluticasone inhalers
- 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.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
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, Flixotide Evohaler® 125 micrograms and 250 micrograms; Allen & Hanburys Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Flixotide Accuhaler®; Allen & Hanburys Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2011.
- British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) 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