Fluticasone

Sounds like 'flu-tic-a-sone

Easy-to-read medicine information about fluticasone – what it is, how to use fluticasone safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids
  • To prevent asthma symptoms
  • Flixotide®
  • Floair®

What is fluticasone?

Fluticasone is used to prevent asthma. It is also called a preventer because when used every day it prevents asthma attacks. Fluticasone works by preventing the swelling and irritation in the walls of the small air passages in the lungs. It belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids. 

In New Zealand, fluticasone inhalers are available in different brands, devices and strengths:

  • metered dose inhaler (MDI or puffer): Flixotide and Floair
  • accuhaler (a dry powder inhaler): Flixotide.

Using an inhaler device enables the medicine to go straight into your airways when you breathe in. This means that your airways and lungs are treated, but very little of the medicine gets into the rest of your body.

Both the MDI and accuhaler are effective. The choice of device is personal preference. Read more about the different inhaler devices and deciding on the right inhaler for you.

Fluticasone does not give immediate relief from an asthma attack
If you need quick relief from asthma symptoms or breathing problems, use your ‘reliever’ medicine such as salbutamol or terbutaline.

Dose

The usual dose is 1 or 2 puffs inhaled two times a day. However, the dose of fluticasone will be different for different people depending on the severity of your symptoms and the strength of your inhaler or accuhaler.

  • Fluticasone inhalers are available in different strengths. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what strength you are taking. If your inhaler looks different to what you were expecting, ask your pharmacist.
  • Always take your fluticasone exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.
  • Keep using your fluticasone every day. Do not stop using fluticasone, even if you feel better. Since asthma is a long-term condition, prevention with fluticasone is ongoing and it will need to be used every day for months or years.
  • Try to use fluticasone at the same time each day, to help you to remember to use it regularly.
  • If you miss a dose, you can take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take your next dose at the right time.
  • Fluticasone can cause a sore throat and hoarse voice – rinse your mouth after each use to prevent this.

How to use your MDI (puffer)

You will get the most benefit from your inhaler if you use the correct technique. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to explain how to use your inhaler. Even if you have been shown before, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to explain how to use your inhaler if you still have any questions. Here is some guidance.

 How to use your MDI (puffer)
Take off the cap and hold the inhaler upright.
Shake the inhaler to mix the medication.
  Sit upright, tilt your head back slightly (as if you are sniffing) and breathe out gently.
Hold the device upright, insert the inhaler into your mouth, ensuring that your lips firmly seal the mouthpiece.
At the beginning of a slow, deep breath, breathe in through the mouthpiece as you press the inhaler to release one dose or 'puff'.
Breathe in fully, remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as is comfortable.
Breathe out gently through your nose.

Learn more about metered dose inhalers

Using a spacer with your MDI

Using a spacer can make it easier to use the inhaler and also helps to get the medicine into the lungs. Spacers increase your medications effectiveness. Children over 10 years may be able to use an MDI without a spacer; however, babies and young children must use MDIs with a spacer or a spacer and a mask. Read more about spacers.

Priming your MDI

If your inhaler is new, or you have not used it in a while, it may need to be primed by spraying 2 puffs into the air.

How to use your accuhaler

How to use your accuhaler
  • Open the accuhaler so you can see the mouthpiece.
  • Slide the lever away from you. The number in the dose counter will be reduced by one.
  • Put the mouthpiece to your lips and breathe in steadily through the accuhaler.
  • Remove the accuhaler and hold your breath for 10 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after using your accuhaler.
  • The accuhaler has a dose counter that tells you how many doses are left. Numbers 5 to 1 will appear in RED, to warn you when there are only a few doses left.
  • Learn more about the accuhaler.

(Asthma Australia, 2013)

Precautions – before using fluticasone

  • Are you breastfeeding?
  • Are you lactose intolerant?
  • Have you ever had pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start using fluticasone. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, fluticasone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Change in voice (hoarse voice)
  • Different taste in your mouth
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Cough
  • These are quite common when you are taking fluticasone. Rinse your mouth after each use
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome  
  • Signs of oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) such as a very sore tongue, throat or mouth, with white sores on the tongue, or in the mouth.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist  
  • Restless, feeling nervous, having mood changes and problems sleeping.
  • Tell your doctor or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116 
  • Blurred vision or changes to your eyesight.
  • Tell your doctor or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116 

Learn More

Flixotide Inhaler, Flixotide Accuhaler Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets
Fluticasone New Zealand Formulary Patient Information

References

  1. Fluticasone New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 04 Jun 2019