Flovent Inhaler

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Flovent Inhaler (fluticasone) is a corticosteroid medication used to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. It can be used in patients age 4 and up. It is not a rescue inhaler; a rescue treatment should always be kept on-hand for asthma attacks that do occur.

As a corticosteroid, Flovent Inhaler reduces inflammation in the lungs. While the exact cause of asthma is unknown and the triggers are variable---from exercise to animal dander---the resulting inflammation produces many of the symptoms associated with an asthma attack. Flovent Inhaler keeps this inflammation minimized and may prevent it from developing in the first place.

Patients who use a rescue inhaler more than twice a week may be good candidates for Flovent Inhaler or other inhaled steroids, though results do vary to some degree. Some individuals find inhaled steroids entirely eliminate asthma symptoms, while others find steroids produce no noticeable effect. Most people are somewhere in the middle; the medication is definitely helpful but does not entirely eliminate asthma.

How to Use Flovent Inhaler

Flovent is available in two forms; an HFA inhaler and a diskus. Both of these administer fluticasone powder to the lungs. Inhalers contain the propellant HFA, in use since CFC propellants were banned; some individuals react poorly to HFA propellants. The diskus does not contain HFA but it does contain milk proteins, which can trigger reactions in those who are allergic to milk proteins.

If neither HFA nor milk proteins are a concern, the two products are essentially the same. Some patients find the familiarity of the inhaler a bit easier to use.

Dosage will depend on a number of factors, including age and severity of asthma. Treatment typically looks like:

  • Some patients may be started on a relatively high dose, to be lowered after asthma is under control.
  • Other patients may be started on a lower dose, increased only if needed.
  • The medication is usually taken twice per day, morning and evening.
  • Inhalers should be shaken before use. The diskus does not need to be shaken.
  • If taking multiple doses at the same time, wait at least 30 seconds between them.
  • Rinse the mouth with water after each dose to prevent infection.

Many patients notice a difference about 24 hours after starting treatment, but it will take about two weeks to see full benefit. If there is no significant improvement after two weeks, dosage may be increased.

Duration of treatment is usually indefinite, as long as the medication provides benefit. Patients may need to periodically stop using Flovent Inhaler due to other medications, medical procedures, or infections. Use can generally be resumed after these events are over.

Note that this medication should not be stopped abruptly; doing so can cause worsening of asthma as well as other symptoms of withdrawal. Dosage will ideally be gradually lowered over several weeks, though this is not always possible. A doctor can help determine a discontinuation plan.

Warnings & Side Effects

Some individuals may not be good candidates for Flovent Inhaler use; speak with a doctor if there is a history of:

  • Lung or systemic infection, such as tuberculosis
  • Cataracts, glaucoma, or eye infections
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss)
  • Liver impairment

Additionally, long-term use of Flovent Inhaler---or any steroid use---in children may stunt growth. However, this is often preferable to impaired breathing. Stunted growth isn't guaranteed to happen and is more likely to occur if high doses of steroids are given over the long term.

In all ages long-term steroid use can reduce the body's ability to respond to stress. Again this is usually only an issue if using very high doses over the long term, but it is a small risk among other patients as well. Notify all doctors and dentists that Flovent Inhaler---and any other steroids---are being used prior to surgery or emergency treatment. Carrying some sort of medical ID stating the medication is being taken is also a good idea.

In most cases patients can take Flovent Inhaler with no problems, or with only mild side effects. Commonly reported side effects include:

  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Persistent cough
  • Headache
  • Upper respiratory tract irritation or infection

As steroids inhibit the immune system's response, patients using Flovent Inhaler are a bit more susceptible to infection, particularly respiratory infection. Care should be taken to avoid coming into contact with others who have contagious respiratory ailments, and if an infection is suspected, a doctor should be seen so it can be addressed quickly.

Effects on unborn or nursing infants are unclear; speak with a doctor about risks versus benefits.

Flovent Inhaler/Flixotide

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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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