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What is Fluconazole (Diflucan)?
Fluconazole is an FDA-approved medication that belongs to a class of drugs called azole antifungals. Doctors like gynecologists and general practitioners prescribe Fluconazole to treat various fungal infections of the vagina, mouth, esophagus, lungs, urinary tract, abdomen, and other organs. However, Fluconazole is most commonly used to treat vaginal candidiasis (also known as a vaginal yeast infection, vulvovaginal candidiasis, candidal vaginitis, and oral thrush).
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Vaginal candidiasis is a fungal infection that’s caused by a yeast called Candida. Your body naturally produces Candida, which lives in your mouth, throat, gut, and vagina, as well as on your skin. It’s normal. But, sometimes, Candida can multiply in specific environments. That’s when you get a yeast infection that is associated with uncomfortable symptoms:
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal soreness
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Pain or discomfort during urination
- Abnormal vaginal discharge (usually a thick white, cloudy, clumpy discharge)
Vaginal candidiasis is a common infection that is not sexually transmitted, though sexual intercourse can increase your chances of developing a yeast infection by disrupting your vaginal environment. Women are also more likely to develop a yeast infection if they are pregnant, using hormonal contraceptives (i.e., birth control), have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, or have recently taken antibiotics that kill off both harmful and healthy (good and bad) bacteria that stabilize the vaginal pH balance.
Fortunately, Fluconazole is typically a fast and effective treatment for most vaginal yeast infections. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, you should call your doctor to make sure that you are fighting a fungal infection and not something else. You may have a bacterial infection (rather than fungal) that could require different medications like rifampin or erythromycin.
Other fungal infections that Fluconazole treats include the following:
- Oropharyngeal and Esophageal Candidiasis
- Disseminated Candidiasis
- Cryptococcal Meningitis
Doctors may also prescribe Fluconazole to ward off fungal infections in patients who are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation before bone marrow transplants.
Fluconazole can come as a tablet to be taken orally, or it may come in the form of a gel that is inserted into the vagina. Courses of the medication vary from one single dose pill to three-day to week-long gel inserts. A three-day insert has a higher concentration than a six-day insert, for example, but a longer course may be more effective in treating more serious yeast infections. Your doctor may also prescribe you a double dose or an even stronger dose, depending on the severity of your infection.
You will likely see several different brand names of Fluconazole, including Diflucan. There are other antifungal medications out there, too, such as Ketoconazole.
Talk to your health care professional for medical advice on the best option for you.
How Does Fluconazole Work?
Fluconazole works by interacting with 14-demethylase, a cytochrome P-450 enzyme that is responsible for catalyzing the conversion of lanosterol to ergosterol. Because ergosterol plays a big role in the fungal cell membrane, Fluconazole stops the synthesis of ergosterol. However, Fluconazole is not always effective in treating all strains of yeast infections. It is typically effective in fighting Candida species and Cryptococcus species but is less effective against C. glabrata and not at all effective in fighting C. krusei, for example.
Side Effects of Fluconazole
As with all prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, there are some adverse side effects to Fluconazole. Some of the common side effects of Fluconazole include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Upset stomach
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Skin rash
- Skin inflammation
- Skin itching
- Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth
If your side effects are unbearable or you are experiencing an allergic reaction to Fluconazole, consult your doctor before taking your next dose.
Can You Mix Fluconazole and Alcohol?
Fluconazole may interact with certain drugs, including antibiotics, blood thinners, sedatives, diuretics, and antiseizure drugs. But there are no known interactions with Fluconazole and alcohol. Still, you should be mindful of drinking alcohol in moderation.
Plus, drinking alcohol may make candida infections worse, which can render an antifungal medicine like Fluconazole less effective. Certain foods and drinks that affect the yeast levels in your body, such as alcohol, can cause yeast to grow.
Side Effects & Risks of Mixing Fluconazole With Alcohol
While alcohol may not interact poorly with Fluconazole, it can still have negative effects on you that can make you feel worse than you already do. Alcohol can affect your brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and other parts of your body. It can lead to heart disease, liver disease, and other liver damage, for example.
Treatment for Fluconazole & Alcohol Abuse
If you or someone you know struggles with Fluconazole and alcohol abuse, reach out to medical help. Treatment is available. Some treatment options include the following:
- An inpatient rehab treatment facility is a live-in center that offers access to resources and support from medical personnel and trained therapists.
- An outpatient rehab center offers the same support as an inpatient facility without residency.
- An alternative addiction treatment program might include holistic medications, spiritual retreats, religious practices, etc.
- A detox program can help wean you off of your alcohol or substance addiction in a slow but safe and steady way.
- A group therapy treatment center offers guided conversations and psychological practices. They offer the support and inspiration of others in similar situations with the help of trained professionals.
- Traditional talk therapy can help you identify and unpack any conscious and subconscious triggers of alcohol or substance use, as well as resolve repressed memories and emotions that may be at the root of your addiction.
Common Questions and Answers
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Fluconazole and alcohol:
Does alcohol make Fluconazole less effective?
There are no known interactions with alcohol and Fluconazole, given the drug information available. However, you should not drink alcohol if you are feeling sick or uncomfortable while fighting off a fungal infection because alcohol can have adverse effects that may make you feel worse. Alcohol, as with some other foods and beverages, can affect your body’s yeast infection.
Does alcohol make a yeast infection worse?
Alcohol may make a yeast infection worse because it affects your body’s level of yeast. When you’re trying to regulate your yeast, alcohol may take a toll on your body’s efforts.
What else should I avoid while taking Fluconazole?
Fluconazole may have some negative drug interactions with certain medications such as some antibiotics, blood thinners, sedatives, diuretics, and antiseizure drugs. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any other medications you are taking before taking Fluconazole.
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