Fluticasone Propionate - What You Need To Know

An Inahled Steroid For Your Asthma

Flovent-Diskus. Photo: © GlaxoSmithKline

What Is Fluticasone Propionate?

Fluticasone propionate is an inhaled corticosteroid used as a controller medication in the treatment of asthma. The brand name for this medication is Flovent.

It is generally prescribed once you need more than a rescue inhaler.

Fluticasone propionate can be prescribed alone or in combination with a LABA or long-acting beta agonist in order to prevent asthma symptoms such as:

It mat be time for fluticasone if you experience any of the following:

  • You experience symptoms and need to use your rescue inhaler more than 2 days per week.
  • You are awakening at night with asthma symptoms more than 3 times per month.
  • You are experiencing some limitations with your daily living due to asthma

How Does Fluticasone Propionate Work?

Fluticasone propionate decreases asthma symptoms by decreasing inflammation in your airways. This medication decreases hyperresponsiveness you may experience the following exposure to allergens and environmental triggers.

In the pathophysiology of asthma, fluticasone propionate targets several different types of cells that may ultimately lead to asthma symptoms including:

Treatment leads to decreased inflammation, mucus production, and hyperresponsiveness and ultimately less wheezing, chest tightness, cough and shortness of breath.

Unlike rescue inhalers, fluticasone propionate needs to be taken daily as part of an asthma action plan.

How Is Fluticasone Propionate Prescribed?

Fluticasone propionate is prescribed as a metered dose inhaler or a dry powdered inhaler. You will use the inhaler 1 or 2 times per day, every day. It is a controller medication meaning that you must use it every day to help achieve good asthma control.

When your symptoms are well controlled you may be able to step down therapy by decreasing the:

  • Total daily dose
  • Number of times per day you need the medication

Fluticasone propionate is the active component in a number of different medications including:

  • Advair- A combination product for asthma that includes a long-acting beta agonist
  • Flovent- commercial name for fluticasone propionate by itself
  • Cutivate- Fluticasone propionate in the form of a cream for the treatment of skin disorders
  • Veramyst– nasal form of fluticasone propionate for the treatment of hay fever or allergic rhinitis

What Side Effects Could I Experience?

All medicines have side effects and fluticasone is no different. Most patients, especially when following instructions, experience few if any side effects. The most annoying side effects tend to be local. Oral Candidiasis or thrush is a common fungal infection in the mouth that can be prevented by rinsing and spitting after each use. Additionally using a spacer (a device that helps deliver medicine to your lungs) decreases your risk of local side effects and has the added benefit of getting more medicine to the lungs.

Additional local side effects include hoarseness or dysphonia and a reflex cough.

There is a small risk for the steroid to go into the blood stream and cause systemic side effects. These could include:

  • Decreased Bone Density:
  • Disseminated Varicella Infection (chickenpox that spreads to organs)
  • Easy Bruising
  • Cataracts and Glaucoma
  • Adrenal Gland Suppression

These side effects are uncommon, but risk increases with higher doses or when steroids must also be taken by mouth.

There has been a concern that inhaled steroids are associated with more serious pneumonias, but do not increase risk of death from pneumonia compared to those not taking inhaled steroids.

When you take combination medications than you are at risk for side effects from both medications that make up the combination product. Some combination products include LABAs or long acting beta agonists. There has also been concern in the last several years about an increase in pneumonia among patients taking combination products with fluticasone. Whether the risk is different among different inhaled steroids is not known.

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Sources

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guide
  2. Glaxo Smith Kline. Flovent Prescribing Information.
  3. Cochrane Collaboration. Do inhaled steroids increase the risk of pneumonia in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

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