GENERIC NAME: fluticasone propionate oral inhaler
BRAND NAMES: Flovent Diskus, Flovent HFA
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Flovent
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Fluticasone propionate is a man-made steroid of the glucocorticoid family which is related to the naturally-occurring steroid hormone, cortisol or hydrocortisone, produced by the adrenal glands. Glucocorticoid steroids have potent anti-inflammatory actions. When used as an inhaler, fluticasone travels to the airways in the lung. In asthmatic patients, the suppression of inflammation within the airways reduces the spasm of muscle cells that surround the airways as well as the accumulation of fluid and cells that accompanies the inflammation which lead to narrowing of the airways. The narrowing makes it difficult to get air into and out of the lungs. When used in lower doses, very little fluticasone is absorbed into the body. When higher doses are used, fluticasone is absorbed and may cause side effects elsewhere in the body. The FDA approved fluticasone in March 1996.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Fluticasone is used for the treatment of asthma in patients 4 years of age old or older who require oral steroid treatment. Fluticasone is not used for acute episodes of asthma; a faster acting dilator of the airways such as albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil, Proventil HFA, AccuNeb, Vospire, ProAir) should be used for acute episodes of asthma.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of fluticasone are:
- upper respiratory infections,
- throat irritation,
- nasal congestion,
- nasal discharge, and
- hoarseness or difficulty speaking.
Fluticasone may also cause bronchospasms (wheezing). Bronchospasms should be treated with a rescue inhaler.
High doses of inhaled fluticasone may decrease formation and increase break-down of bone thereby weakening bones and promoting fractures.
Higher doses of fluticasone also may suppress the body's ability to make its own natural glucocorticoid in the adrenal gland. People with suppression of their adrenal glands (which can be diagnosed by a testing performed by doctors) need increased amounts of glucocorticoids, probably by the oral or intravenous route, during periods of high physical stress when glucocorticoids are particularly important.
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