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What is Fluconazole?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Fluconazole is medication used to treat fungal infections. It has a number of brand names, of which Diflucan® may be the most well known. It slightly differs from many of the antifungals used to address mild fungal infections because it is stronger, and it’s not always the first treatment doctors will try. Normally the drug is reserved for treatment of more persistent fungal infections, when first line treatments fail, or when people have suppressed immune systems and have trouble resolving infections without aggressive first line treatment.

The most common drug delivery method of fluconazole is oral. If a fungal infection is very severe, the medication can also be delivered intravenously. Dosage varies and is dependent on type of infection and response. Sometimes female yeast infections could be treated with the drug, and the dose might consist of a single pill. In other instances, people will take this medicine one or more times a day for months at a time. There are times when the drug could be used as a preventative if other treatments create high risk for developing severe fungal infections.

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Given the strength of fluconazole, side effect profile and drug interactions are predictably higher. Serious complications can occur while taking this medication and may result in intestinal bleeding and extremely severe nausea. The liver may be affected and jaundice might occur, or easy bleeding and bruising can result. Though rare, pronounced skin rash is another concerning side effect, as is allergic reaction, which can create wheezing, hives, swelling of the face, and difficulty breathing. Any of these side effects require immediate medical attention.

Most people will not encounter serious drug side effects from fluconazole, but some people will still have uncomfortable, though not life-threatening reactions to the medicine. It can cause low-grade nausea at all times, mild rash, sensations of dizziness, diarrhea, and headache. Some people adjust to these side effects as they continue to take fluconazole and other people will not experience them at all.

There are medications which may interact with Diflucan®. Among these are most blood thinners, certain tranquilizers, medications used to treat seizures or mood disorders (bipolar), and some medications used in the treatment of HIV. This last group is especially important because people with HIV/AIDS can develop aggressive and opportunistic fungal infections that may be hard to treat without medicines like fluconazole. Patients are advised to be cautious by giving doctors a list of all current medications including herbs, supplements and over the counter drugs, so physicians can determine if any other medications might need to be adjusted or if too much risk exists to use Diflucan®.

In most cases, fluconazole can be an exceptionally useful drug. It’s not recommended for pregnant women, and may be contraindicated if people have kidney or liver damage, or if they have heart conditions that show a long QT interval on an electrocardiogram. There may be other contraindications, and doctors should be well acquainted with patient history prior to prescribing this medication.

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