safety medical

Fluconazole (Diflucan) side-effects

Fluconazole is an antifungal agent that is utilised in the treatment of fungal and used infections. It is highly water-soluble and has an excellent bioavailability when taken orally. Doses vary depending upon the type of infection and the severity of it and the drug can be administered through intravenous route and orally.

As is the case with any medication given to a patient, fluconazole also has a handful of side-effects. In this article, we shall explore some of the common side-effects that patients taking fluconazole may experience.

Side-effects of fluconazole

Common side effects

Common side-effects that patients experience includes nausea, vomiting, an upset stomach, loose motion i.e. diarrhoea and headache. Handful of patients may also experience hair loss. These side-effects are often quite mild and do not occur very commonly either. However, patients need to keep an eye out for more serious side-effects that can occur sometimes.

Some of the serious side-effects that patients taking fluconazole may experience include severe dizziness, fainting attacks and irregular heartbeats. These are particularly important as they can be quite dangerous to patients and require detailed assessment and treatment. For example, patients who develop an irregular heartbeat may require monitoring on a coronary care unit and administration of drugs that can reverse the heart back to its normal rhythm. Fluconazole may need to be stopped and an alternative treatment may need to be explored in such situations.

Liver failure

Another rare side-effect of fluconazole is the development of liver disease. Patients who develop the side-effects can experience abdominal pain, yellow discoloration of the skin and the eyes (called jaundice) and itching of the skin. The urine may become dark yellow in colour and patients may experience a great deal of nausea and fatigue. Diagnosis of liver diseases made through regular assessment of liver function through blood tests. In the event that liver failure occurs, patients may require admission and treatment along with cessation of fluconazole therapy.

Allergic reactions

A serious side-effect that can occur with fluconazole therapy is an allergic reaction. Shortly after taking fluconazole, patients who are prone to developing allergic to this drug will notice itching, swelling of the tongue and face and significant dizziness. In rare cases, patients may have respiratory distress meaning they may have difficulty breathing. Allergic reactions like this warrant emergency treatment in an intensive care setting and must not be ignored.

Cardiac side effects

We have previously mentioned how fluconazole treatment can sometimes have an effect on the heart by causing irregular heart rhythms. Another important aspect of this side-effect is the prolongation of the QT interval on the ECG. This refers to a period of contraction and relaxation of the heart which is prolonged and can result in the development of life-threatening irregularities in the heartbeat. In particular, this can be precipitated by the presence of low electrolyte levels of potassium and magnesium along with the concurrent administration of certain medications. Doctors need to be aware of this side-effect when prescribing other treatments with fluconazole.

Fluconazole (Diflucan) is an excellent antifungal agent that has a few side-effects. Patients and doctors need to be aware of these in full when taking and prescribing the drugs respectively.

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