It is important that you complete the prescribed course - do not stop the treatment just because you feel better.
Itraconazole can interact with a number of other medicines - be sure to tell your doctor about any other medicines you take.
|Type of medicine||Antifungal|
|Used for||Fungal infections|
|Available as||Capsules, oral liquid medicine and injection|
Many types of fungi live harmlessly on our skin and in other places in the environment. However, some types of fungi can thrive and multiply on the surface of our bodies to cause infections of the skin, mouth or vagina. The most common fungi to cause skin infections are the tinea group of fungi. A common infection of the mouth and vagina is called thrush. It 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.
Itraconazole is used to treat fungal infections. It works by killing yeast and fungi.
Before taking itraconazole
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 itraconazole it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have any heart or lung problems.
- If you have porphyria (this is a rare inherited blood disorder).
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
- 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.
How to take itraconazole
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about itraconazole and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take itraconazole exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your doctor is likely to prescribe one or two capsules (or 10-20 ml of liquid medicine), to be taken once or twice daily. If you are asked to take two doses a day, space the doses out by taking one of the doses in the morning and the other in the evening. The directions will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you what the doctor has said.
- If you have been given itraconazole capsules, take each of your doses straight after a meal. Swallow the capsules whole - do not chew or open them. They are best taken with a slightly acidic drink, such as a non-diet cola.
- If you have been given itraconazole liquid medicine, take your doses at least an hour before meals or wait until two hours afterwards. If you are taking the medicine for a mouth infection, swish the liquid around your mouth for a little while before you swallow it.
- A course of treatment with itraconazole may last from a day or so, to several months. Keep taking the capsules/medicine until your course has finished unless you are told otherwise. This is to make sure your infection has completely gone and to prevent it from coming back.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor may want to do some blood tests during your treatment to check that your liver is working properly.
- You must not get pregnant while you are taking itraconazole, or for a few weeks afterwards. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner if this affects you.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with itraconazole. Indigestion remedies (antacids) should not be taken at the same time as itraconazole, as they prevent it from being absorbed properly by your body. If you need to take an antacid, take it at least two hours before a dose of itraconazole is due, or wait until two hours afterwards.
Can itraconazole 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 itraconazole. 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 itraconazole side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling or being sick, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, wind||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Itchy rash, problems with periods, nose and throat infections||If any become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of less common but more serious side-effects, such as problems with your liver. You must contact your doctor straightaway if you experience any of the following:
- Persistent sickness or stomach pain.
- Unusual tiredness.
- Loss of appetite.
- Darker than normal urine.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store itraconazole
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Once a bottle of Sporanox® Oral liquid has been opened it will keep for 30 days - after this time, make sure you have a fresh supply.
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, Sporanox® Capsules; Janssen-Cilag Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2013.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Sporanox® 10 mg/ml Oral Solution; Janssen-Cilag Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2012.
- 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.
Prof Cathy Jackson