Fluconazole belongs to a group of medicines referred to as triazole antifungals. It works by interfering with the formation of the cell wall and preventing or slowing the growth of pathogenic fungi or yeast.
This drug is available by prescription only.
Fluconazole is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of a variety of Candida fungal infections in the mouth (thrush), esophagus, genital region, lungs, and urinary tract and disseminated (systemic) candidal infections in adults and children. It is also indicated for use in treating cryptococcal meningitis.
Fluconazole is sometimes used as a preventative treatment for patients preparing for a bone marrow transplant. Some physicians may prescribe fluconazole off-label when treating certain infections caused by other fungi, such as coccidioidomycosis.
Fluconazole is available in pill and powder forms (for making liquid suspensions). It also comes in an injectable form that is administered by a healthcare professional for the treatment of systemic fungal infections.
Your doctor will determine the appropriate form and strength of fluconazole for your particular medical condition. Dosing for children will be based on their weight.
Tablets (generic, Diflucan):
Injection (generic only):
Powder for suspension (generic, Diflucan):
Before beginning fluconazole and every time you get a refill, you should read the patient information provided by the pharmacist as well as the drug manufacturer. If you have questions, contact your pharmacist or doctor.
You can take fluconazole with or without food. It's best to try and take your doses at about the same time each day.
The liquid suspension form of the drug should be shaken well before measuring out your dose. Always use the measuring device provided by your pharmacist and not a household spoon. Once reconstituted, the liquid suspension may be stored at room temperature (away from heat, direct light, and moisture) or in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.
Depending upon the medical condition for which you're being treated, you might take one dose only, or you may need to repeat your dose weekly for a longer period.
Once fluconazole enters the body, it begins working quickly. The oral forms of the drug reach peak concentrations in the blood between one and two hours, and the injectable type performs similarly. While the rate of action can vary depending on personal characteristics, you may start to see improvements within a few days.
You shouldn't discontinue the drug until you've finished the full course of medication prescribed to you, even if you feel well. If you stop too soon, the infection may return.
If you've ever had an allergic reaction to fluconazole or a similar medication, you should not take the drug again.
You may need to use caution when taking fluconazole if you are a reproductive-aged female or you have any of the following conditions:
Heart rhythm abnormalities, such as prolonged QT (or family history), bradycardia, or other arrhythmias
Cardiovascular disease or a recent heart attack
Congestive heart failure
Genetic conditions, such as fructose intolerance, glucose or galactose malabsorption, and sucrase or isomaltase insufficiency (when taking the liquid form)
Electrolyte abnormalities like low sodium or calcium in the blood
The common side effects associated with fluconazole include:
Changes in taste
If you experience any of these common side effects, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
Fluconazole can cause elevated liver enzymes, low white blood cell or platelet counts, low potassium levels, and high lipid levels. It can also cause gallbladder stasis and hepatitis.
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following adverse effects:
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Upper abdominal pain
Unusual rash, hives, or itching
Abnormal bruising, bleeding, or swelling
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Serious allergic reaction
Severe rash or peeling skin
If you think you're having an allergic reaction to fluconazole, or if you have any severe side effects such as fainting, difficulty breathing, abnormal heartbeat, dark urine, severe abdominal pain, or vomiting that won't stop, you should visit your local emergency department or call 911.
If you suspect you may have overdosed on fluconazole, call 911 or the National Poison Control helpline at 1-800-222-1222, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Symptoms of a possible overdose include any of the following:
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to fluconazole include:
Hives/blisters on the skin, itching, or rash with skin peeling
Difficulty breathing or wheezing
Elevated heart rate
Swelling in your throat, tongue, or anywhere on the face
Loss of consciousness
If you develop allergic symptoms after taking fluconazole, you should seek immediate medical attention either by visiting the closest emergency department or dialing 911, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
The duration of treatment with fluconazole depends on the condition being treated and its severity. Your doctor may recommend taking fluconazole for weeks or even months. Research suggests that the risk of unwanted side effects increases with long-term use. In one 2018 study, more than half of the 124 participants experienced adverse effects while taking the drug longer than 28 days.
According to the US FDA, fluconazole falls into different categories depending on the dose and indications for treatment. When the drug is used for treating vaginal candidiasis, it is designated a pregnancy category C medication. Category C means adverse effects were seen in animal studies, but there is insufficient data from human studies to determine the risks in pregnancy.
Fluconazole is classified as a category D drug (as of 2017) when it is used for other indications during pregnancy. Drugs designated pregnancy category D have shown clear evidence of harm to the fetus.
There are cases in both categories for which the benefits of taking the drug outweigh the potential risks. If you're pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and need to take fluconazole, your doctor will review the potential risks and benefits to determine what is best for you. The decision will be based on many factors, including the condition being treated, other medications you are taking, any other medical conditions you have, and how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Fluconazole is excreted poorly into breast milk, appearing in lower concentrations than the recommended neonatal dosage. In fact, fluconazole is frequently prescribed to nursing mothers to aid in the treatment of recurrent breast candidiasis.
If you miss a dose of fluconazole, and it’s more than halfway to the time of your next dose, simply wait and take your next dose at its usual time. Otherwise, take your missed dose right away, then take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Never double your dose to make up for a missed one, as doing so could result in an accidental overdose.
You can always call your pharmacist or doctor for advice if you're not sure what to do after missing a dose.
You can reduce your risk of drug interactions by informing your doctor of all medications, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you take regularly or occasionally.
Drugs known to interact with fluconazole include the following:
Antiarrhythmics like amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)
Antibiotics, including azithromycin (Zithromax), erythromycin, rifampin, and rifabutin (Mycobutin)
Antiviral medications, such as zidovudine (Retrovir) and saquinavir (Invirase)
Blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) and clopidogrel (Plavix)
Calcium channel blockers like nifedipine (Procardia), amlodipine (Norvasc), and verapamil (Calan SR)
Cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), and simvastatin (Zocor)
Diabetes medicines like glyburide (Glynase) and glipizide
Immune-modulating drugs, such as cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral), ibrutinib (Imbruvica), and tacrolimus (Astagraf XL, Prograf)
Vitamin A supplements
This is not a complete list of drug interactions. Review all medications you take regularly or occasionally with your doctor before taking fluconazole.
While there is no known direct harm if a person drinks alcohol while taking fluconazole, both alcohol and fluconazole have the potential to cause damage to the liver. If you have liver disease or an increased risk of liver issues, it's best to avoid or use caution when drinking alcohol while taking fluconazole.
Fluconazole is available by prescription only, so you’ll need to meet with your doctor before you start taking it. At your appointment, you should discuss all of the following topics that apply to you:
Any drug allergies or previous reactions to medicines
Your medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) and all herbal and nutritional supplements you take regularly or occasionally
Your medical history and other health conditions, particularly immune-related conditions, abnormal heart rhythms, liver or kidney disease, lactose intolerance, and any hereditary condition related to glucose or fructose absorption
Your alcohol use and history
Whether you're breastfeeding, thinking about becoming pregnant soon, or currently pregnant (especially in your first trimester)
Continue your prescribed course of fluconazole, even if you feel your condition has resolved. If you experience unwanted side effects while taking the medication and wish to discontinue treatment, ask your doctor about alternative therapies.
If you’re on long-term therapy with fluconazole and prednisone, your doctor may need to monitor for adrenal insufficiency (a condition affecting your body’s hormone production processes) when you stop taking fluconazole.
1990: Fluconazole earned US FDA approval
Store your medication at room temperature and away from direct light, heat, and moisture.
If you're taking the liquid suspension form of fluconazole, store it at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but never in the freezer.
Tell your prescriber if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact your pharmacist or doctor. They want you to take fluconazole correctly so you can get better as quickly as possible.
Your doctor will determine the appropriate dose and dosing schedule for you based on your condition. Patients with a vaginal yeast infection, for example, may only need one dose.
You can take fluconazole at any time of the day but try to take it around the same time each day.
Fluconazole is an antifungal medication, not an antibiotic, and it is not an effective treatment for infections caused by bacteria.
Here at HealthMatch, we’ve done our best to ensure that the information provided in this article is helpful, up to date, and, most importantly, accurate.
However, we can’t replace the one-to-one advice of a qualified medical practitioner or outline all of the possible risks associated with this particular drug and your circumstances.
It is therefore important for you to note that the information contained in this article does not constitute professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or recommendation of treatment and is not intended to, nor should be used to, replace professional medical advice. This article may not always be up to date and is not exhaustive of all of the risks and considerations relevant to this particular drug. In no circumstances should this article be relied upon without independent consideration and confirmation by a qualified medical practitioner.
Your doctor will be able to explain all possible uses, dosages, precautions, interactions with other drugs, and other potential adverse effects, and you should always talk to them about any kind of medication you are taking, thinking about taking or wanting to stop taking.