What You Need to Know About Fluticasone (Flonase) Side Effects
Fluticasone is a corticosteroid medication used to treat symptoms related to an overactive immune response from various conditions like allergies and asthma.
It’s available in generic and brand-name, over-the-counter (OTC), and prescription forms. Side effects from fluticasone can depend on the form, dose, and the individual.
One of the most common brands of fluticasone is Flonase nasal spray. It’s available over the counter to treat symptoms of hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Symptoms can include runny nose, sneezing, and swelling of nasal passages, as well as itchy, watery eyes.
Other forms of fluticasone topical may be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Corticosteroids help calm skin reactions such as redness, itching, scaling, and irritation.
Fluticasone is also used alone or in combination with other medications to treat symptoms of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This causes wheezing, shortness of breath, and inflammation of the airways, making it hard to breathe.
What are the forms of fluticasone?
Fluticasone is available in several different forms. The dosage and strength depend on the form of fluticasone. Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information on specific brands.
Topical (cream, ointment, lotion) examples include:
- fluticasone propionate cream (Cutivate cream)
- fluticasone propionate lotion (Cutivate lotion)
- fluticasone propionate ointment (Cutivate ointment)
Oral (inhalation powder) examples include:
- fluticasone propionate (Flovent Diskus)
- fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate (Advair HFA, Advair Diskus, AirDuo Digihaler)
- fluticasone furoate and vilanterol trifenatate (Breo)
- fluticasone-umeclidinium-vilanterol (Trelegy Ellipta)
- fluticasone propionate (XHANCE, Flonase Nasal Spray, Flonase Allergy Relief)
- fluticasone furoate (Flonase Sensimist Allergy Relief)
What are the side effects of fluticasone?
Generally, corticosteroids taken orally or injected have greater risk of more serious side effects than topical, nasal, or inhaled forms.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a full list of possible side effects. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any specific side effects or other concerns about fluticasone.
Fluticasone nasal spray
Common side effects
- nose bleeds, burning, and irritation
- nausea or vomiting
- sore throat
- runny nose
Serious side effects
- signs of infection (fever, chills, sore throat, etc.)
- trouble breathing or swallowing
- thick nasal discharge
- slow wound healing
- tiredness and muscle weakness
- tear in your nasal cartilage (septum), causing bleeding, whistling, or runny nose
Rare side effects
- allergic reactions (swelling of face, throat, tongue, skin rash, itching, wheezing, and shortness of breath)
- change in smell and taste
- ulcer in the nose
- change in eye pressure
- blurred vision or other vision changes
- eye irritation and pain
- trouble breathing or chest tightness
- thrush (yeast infection in your nose, mouth, or throat)
Research shows incorrect use of fluticasone nasal spray can impact effectiveness and compliance and lead to side effects. Ask your pharmacist the correct technique for using your specific nasal spray.
Side effects of inhaled fluticasone
- throat irritation and hoarseness
- thrush (rinse your mouth after using your inhaler to lower the risk of this issue)
- dry mouth
- changes in smell or taste
- stomach problems
- irregular heart rate
- nausea or vomiting
- joint pain or back pain
- fever or infection
- changes in weight
- increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
Side effects of fluticasone topical
- sun sensitivity (wear protective clothing, sunscreen)
- burning, irritation, itching, or dryness
- blisters and redness
- bumps on skin or around the mouth
- thinning of skin and skin changes, including the risk of injury, infection, or bruising
- blotchy skin or patches on the skin
- increased hair growth (body and face)
- stretch marks
Safety tips when taking fluticasone
Follow these precautions when taking fluticasone:
- For topical products, always wash your hands before and after applying the medication. Don’t cover the affected area unless your doctor tells you to do so.
- Rinse your mouth after using an inhaler.
- Let your doctor know if you have unusual changes in taste or smell when using this medication.
- Don’t share your medication with anyone. Use it exactly as your doctor tells you.
- Ask your pharmacist how to use the medication properly and about specific side effects.
In case of accidental poisoning or overdose, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, or seek emergency help immediately.
Special precautions when taking fluticasone
Tell your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or get worse after a few weeks on fluticasone or if you have any of these:
- eye problems like glaucoma or cataracts
- liver disease, which may need monitoring
- exposure to chickenpox or measles
- an infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal)
- taking medication for an infection
- problems with your immune system
- surgery of the nose
- injury or sores
- pregnant or breastfeeding
- taking HIV or antifungal medications
- thyroid problems
- bone-related problems
- poor circulation
Make sure to tell your doctor about any other conditions or allergies to any medications you may have.
The risk of using fluticasone in pregnancy isn’t known. It might be necessary for you to take fluticasone even during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of using fluticasone versus any potential risks to you and your baby.
It isn’t known if inhaled, nasal, or topical fluticasone passes into breast milk. Ask your doctor about any risks if you’re using fluticasone while breastfeeding.
The safety of fluticasone use in children under 4 years of age hasn’t been determined. There’s a risk corticosteroids may slow growth in children with regular use. The risk is higher with oral or injectable corticosteroids. If your child is taking fluticasone, the doctor will monitor their growth.
Anyone with kidney, liver, or heart problems, a poor immune system, or who is prone to infections may need special monitoring. Depending on the type, dose, and amount of time fluticasone is used, your doctor will discuss risks of using the medication.
In some people, there’s a greater risk of side effects with topical fluticasone because the skin may be thin or damaged. It’s best to limit use and only when benefits outweigh risks.
WHEN TO SEEK EMERGENCY CARECall 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:
- feel like you’re having an allergic reaction to fluticasone
- a rash
- swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
- difficulty breathing
- asthma symptoms that don’t improve, you have trouble breathing, or symptoms get worse
- severe nosebleeds
- an infection, fever, cough, or sore throat
- white patches in your mouth, throat, or nose
- sores, redness, or wounds that won’t heal
- dizziness, blurred vision, or eye pain
- tiredness or weakness
- nausea or vomiting
- severe headaches
- weight loss or gain
- increased thirst
- swelling of feet
What’s the outlook for people taking fluticasone?
Fluticasone is a popular medication used to treat many types of immune-related conditions.
You may experience some side effects when you first start using the medication. If they don’t go away after a few days or get worse, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about other medications that might help with your symptoms.
This might include nonsteroid medication options. Fluticasone nasal spray can sometimes make asthma symptoms, like wheezing or shortness of breath, worse. Ask your doctor about other medications you can take instead for nasal allergies.
Fluticasone is available in several different forms, including the popular OTC brand Flonase. It’s available alone or in combination with other medications.
Side effects depend on combinations, dose, frequency of use, and individual reactions.
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