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Diflucan (Fluconazole) Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages


What Is Diflucan?

Diflucan (fluconazole) is an orally administered prescription drug used to treat and prevent various fungal infections in adults and children, including thrush (oral) and vaginal yeast infections resulting from differing types of naturally occurring Candida fungus. Diflucan also treats fungal meningitis.

Diflucan is categorized as an azole antifungal and works by slowing the growth of fungus. Specifically, azole antifungals are a subgroup of the larger antifungal drug class.

The active ingredient in Diflucan is fluconazole.

Fluconazole is available as a generic product that can be administered in multiple forms, including oral tablets or liquid suspension (a liquid to be swallowed with small amounts of a drug).

However, this article will focus on Diflucan, a brand-name drug administered either through oral tablets or as a powder for liquid suspension.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Fluconazole

Brand Name(s): Diflucan

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Azole antifungal

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Administration Route: Oral

Active Ingredient: Fluconazole

Dosage Form(s): Tablet, powder for liquid suspension

What Is Diflucan Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Diflucan for the following:

  • Treatment of fungal infections, including yeast infections of the vagina, lungs, mouth, esophagus, blood, abdomen, throat, and other organs as a result of the Candida fungus
  • Treatment of Cryptococcal fungal meningitis (infection of the membranes and fluid that are found within the spinal cord and brain) in those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Prophylaxis (prevention) of fungal infection in people with a weakened immune system due to cancer treatment (chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy), bone marrow transplant (a procedure that puts healthy blood-forming stem cells into your body to replace bone marrow that is not making enough healthy blood cells)

Diflucan is effective against varying types of Candida fungus that can lead to yeast infections, such as Candida parapsilosis, Candida tropicalis, and Cryptococcus neoformans.

How to Take Diflucan

If you are prescribed Diflucan:

  • Use Diflucan precisely as your healthcare provider directs, and do not skip doses. You can take Diflucan with or without food. It is usually taken once a day,
  • If your prescription is for oral suspension, shake the bottle well before measuring. Measure with a medication-measuring device. Do not use a kitchen measuring device.
  • If your symptoms worsen or do not improve after several days, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Do not stop taking Diflucan before the prescribed length of treatment is over, even if you are feeling better. Stopping the medication too soon could cause the infection to return.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about Diflucan.

Storage

Store Diflucan tablets or suspension at room temperature, away from heat, direct light, and moisture. Do not store it in the bathroom or freeze the medication.

Discard any unused oral suspension after 14 days. Keep this medication in its original labeled container and out of reach of children and pets. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Off-Label Uses

Sometimes Diflucan is used off-label for indications that are not FDA-approved.

Healthcare providers may prescribe Diflucan for off-label use for the following:

How Long Does Diflucan Take to Work?

In short, the time for recovery depends on the fungal infection you are using Diflucan to treat.

For a vaginal yeast infection, you may start to feel better quickly, after one dose, although some females may require a second dose. For other types of Candida infections, it may take a few days or weeks to feel better.

Even if you feel better, it is important to take Diflucan for the full prescribed length of treatment to make sure the infection is completely treated.

What Are the Side Effects of Diflucan?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects associated with the use of Diflucan include:

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms associated with the use of Diflucan may include the following:

  • Hypersensitivity reactions (anaphylaxis): Symptoms can include rash, urticaria (hives), swelling around the lips, tongue, and face, and difficulty breathing; it requires emergency medical attention. 
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis: These severe skin reactions can be life-threatening and cause death if not treated. Be alert for sore throat, burning eyes, fever, red or purple rash, blistering/peeling skin, and skin pain.
  • Liver problems: Be alert to stomach pain, nausea, appetite loss, fatigue, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes).
  • Low white blood cells: This can increase the risk of other types of infections.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat): Be alert to fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in the chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness.
  • Low platelet levels: This disorder can increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.
  • Seizures

Long-Term Side Effects

Taking Diflucan for a short time is unlikely to cause long-term side effects. However, in some cases, long-term side effects could occur in people taking Diflucan for an extended period.

In a clinical study of people who took Diflucan for 28 days or longer for coccidioidomycosis, the most common side effects were dry skin, hair loss, and fatigue.

Another clinical trial studied people who took Diflucan once weekly for six months to prevent vaginal yeast infections. In this study, the medication was found to be tolerated well, with mild side effects, and most people were able to take the medication for the entire six months.

Dosage: How Much Diflucan Should I Take?


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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage forms (suspension or tablets):

    • For cryptococcal meningitis:

      • Adults—400 milligrams (mg) on the first day, followed by 200 mg once a day for at least 10 to 12 weeks. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
      • Children 6 months to 13 years of age—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 12 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight on the first day, followed by 6 mg per kg of body weight once a day, for at least 10 to 12 weeks.
      • Children younger than 6 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For esophageal candidiasis:

      • Adults—200 milligrams (mg) on the first day, followed by 100 mg once a day for at least 3 weeks. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed.
      • Children 6 months to 13 years of age—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 6 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight on the first day, followed by 3 mg per kg of body weight once a day, for at least 3 weeks.
      • Children younger than 6 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For oropharyngeal candidiasis:

      • Adults—200 milligrams (mg) on the first day, followed by 100 mg once a day for at least 2 weeks.
      • Children 6 months to 13 years of age—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 6 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight on the first day, followed by 3 mg per kg of body weight once a day, for at least 2 weeks.
      • Children younger than 6 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For other infections that may occur in different parts of the body:

      • Adults—Doses of up to 400 milligrams (mg) per day.
      • Children 6 months to 13 years of age—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 6 to 12 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day.
      • Children younger than 6 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For prevention of candidiasis during bone marrow transplantation:

      • Adults—400 milligrams (mg) once a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For urinary tract infections or peritonitis:

      • Adults—50 to 200 milligrams (mg) per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For vaginal candidiasis:

      • Adults—150 milligrams (mg) once a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Potential users should note the following regarding the consumption of Diflucan:

You may need to use caution when taking Diflucan if you are 65 years or older, especially if you have kidney problems. People of any age with kidney problems may need a reduced dosage.

A dosage adjustment is generally not required for females with vaginal yeast infections who take a one-dose regimen of Diflucan. People with liver problems, however, should consult their healthcare provider.

Females of childbearing age should use an effective form of birth control while taking Diflucan and for at least one week after the last dose. Discuss effective forms of birth control with your healthcare provider.

Pregnant females will generally not be prescribed Diflucan, especially in the first trimester, due to the risk of harm to the unborn baby.

Diflucan may be prescribed in rare cases where the benefits of treatment outweigh the risk to the unborn baby, for example, in a severe or life-threatening infection where no alternative treatment is available.

Females who are breastfeeding should consult their healthcare provider before using Diflucan. This medication is generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Diflucan, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take extra doses to make up for a missed dose.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Diflucan?

Taking too much Diflucan can cause hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist) and paranoid behavior (unrealistic distrust of others).

What Happens If I Overdose on Diflucan?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Diflucan, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking Diflucan, call 911 immediately.

Precautions


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It is very important that your doctor check your or your child’s progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

If your or your child’s symptoms do not improve, or if they become worse, check with your doctor. Continue to take this medicine as directed.

You or your child should not use erythromycin (Ery-Tab®), pimozide (Orap®), or quinidine (Cardioquin®) while using this medicine because of the risk of unwanted side effects.

Using this medicine for a long time or using it too much while you are pregnant (especially during the first trimester) can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control during treatment with this medicine and for at least 1 week after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.

This medicine may rarely cause serious liver problems. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have stomach pain or tenderness, clay-colored stools, dark urine, decreased appetite, fever, headache, itching, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, skin rash, swelling of the feet or lower legs, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin.

This medicine may rarely cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash, itching, hives, hoarseness, trouble with breathing, trouble with swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

Serious skin reactions can occur in certain people during treatment with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child start having a skin rash, itching, or any other skin changes while using this medicine.

Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you or anyone in your family has ever had a heart rhythm problem including QT prolongation.

This medicine may cause adrenal gland problems. Check with your doctor right away if you have darkening of the skin, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, loss of appetite, mental depression, nausea, skin rash, unusual tiredness or weakness, or vomiting.

This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Diflucan?

Diflucan is not appropriate for everyone.

Before taking Diflucan, tell your healthcare provider about your medical conditions, medical history, and family history.

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to fluconazole, similar antifungals, or any inactive ingredients in Diflucan. 

Other people who should not take Diflucan include:

  • Females in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • People with fructose intolerance, glucose or galactose malabsorption, or congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency (CSID; inability to digest certain sugar, particularly sucrose) should not take the oral suspension form of Diflucan

Diflucan may be prescribed with caution in some people only if the healthcare provider determines it is safe. This includes:

  • Females in the second or third trimester of pregnancy
  • Females of childbearing age
  • People with electrolyte abnormalities (having too much or not enough of certain minerals in the body)
  • People with heart rhythm disorders or a family history of heart rhythm disorders
  • People who have had a recent heart attack
  • People with congestive heart failure (CHF) (when your blood fails to pump a sufficient amount of blood) or heart disease
  • People with liver or kidney problems

What Other Medications May Interact With Diflucan?

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and vitamins or supplements.

While taking Diflucan, do not start any new medications without approval from your healthcare provider. Some drugs that may interact with Diflucan include:

Certain drugs should not be taken with Diflucan, while others may need a dosage adjustment and close monitoring.

Consult your healthcare provider for more information and a complete list of drug interactions.

What Medications Are Similar?

Depending on the type of fungal infection, you may require different antifungals. Some fungal infections will require more prolonged treatment and may even require preventive medication.

Examples of other oral antifungals include:

Various topical and vaginal antifungal medications can be used alone or in combination with oral antifungal medications. These come in both prescription and OTC forms.

This list is a list of drugs also prescribed for fungal infections. It is not a list of medicines recommended to take with Diflucan. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does Diflucan work?

    Diflucan works to treat or prevent certain types of fungal infections by slowing the growth of fungus.

  • What are the side effects of Diflucan?

    Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, indigestion, headache, rash, altered taste, and dizziness. Serious side effects may occur. Before taking Diflucan, discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider.

  • How do I stop taking Diflucan?

    Your healthcare provider will tell you how long to take Diflucan. Take Diflucan exactly as directed. Do not stop taking it early, even if you start feeling better; doing so may cause the infection to return.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Diflucan?

Fungal infections can be uncomfortable, but fortunately, medications like Diflucan can treat or prevent them.

While taking Diflucan, follow the instructions exactly. Ask your healthcare provider if you are unsure how or when to take your medication.

Diflucan can interact with many medications, so before starting this medicine, tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you take. This includes prescription and OTC drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

While taking Diflucan, do not start any new medications unless your healthcare provider tells you it is safe. You can also ask your healthcare provider if you should follow any other tips or precautions.

For example, Diflucan is commonly prescribed in females with vaginal yeast infections, so it can be helpful to learn how to prevent them.

Some tips to help prevent vaginal yeast infections include:

  • Avoid douching
  • Avoid scented feminine products (bath products, sprays, pads, tampons)
  • Change pads or tampons regularly
  • Avoid tight underwear, pantyhose, pants, and jeans, all of which can increase moisture
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • After swimming or exercising, change out of wet or sweaty clothes as soon as possible
  • Wipe from front to back
  • Avoid hot tubs
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in the target range as much as possible

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health’s drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.



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