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How does Diflucan work?

Diflucan is a medication that can be used to treat a yeast infection – How does Diflucan work?

Yeast infections are considered one of the most common types of fungal infections. They can occur in any part of the body including the mouth, throat, esophagus, and vagina.

Yeast infections commonly affect people with a compromised immune system, or those taking antibiotics or any drugs that suppress the immune system.

Yeast infections affecting more than one organ or system in the body can be life-threatening. The infections generally occur because of an overgrowth of yeast in the affected area of the body. 

There are several anti-fungal treatments available to treat or prevent yeast infections. These include prescription medications such as Diflucan as well as probiotics and vaccines.

How does Diflucan work?

Diflucan, also known as Fluconazole, is used to treat yeast infections. This medication is prescribed by a doctor and can also be used to prevent a fungal infection.

It is generally the preferred choice for treating fungal infections in patients undergoing bone marrow or organ transplantation as well as for those admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

Stopping the growth of yeast

Diflucan works by stopping the growth of yeast in the infected areas of the body.

This is done by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for the production of ergosterol, a vital component found in the cell membranes of fungi.

By blocking the synthesis of ergosterol, the drug increases the cell membrane’s permeability, resulting in killing the fungi cells.

How is the drug administered?

The drug can be given orally or intravenously. Oral forms of Diflucan are available as tablets, capsules, or oral suspensions (solutions).

The tablets come in different sizes (50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg). The oral suspensions usually contain either 350 mg or 1400 mg of fluconazole.


Dosage usually depends on the type of infecting fungi and the person’s response to treatment. Follow your doctor or pharmacist’s instructions when taking the drug.

Diflucan should be stored at room temperature and kept out of reach of children.

A single dose of about 150 mg is generally recommended for individuals with yeast infections in the vagina.

An initial dose of around 200 mg on the first day, followed by a dose of approximately 100 mg given once daily, is recommended for adults with infections in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.

For patients with yeast infections in the gut and urinary tract, usually, doses ranging between 50 mg and 200 mg are usually recommended to be taken daily.

Oral forms of Diflucan

Oral forms of Diflucan have a bioavailability of around 90 percent. The drug is quickly absorbed into the body within two hours following intake.

It is primarily cleared from the body by the kidneys, which may make it unsuitable for people with impaired renal function.

How long does it take for Diflucan to work?                                                          

Diflucan can reach peak concentrations in the blood in one-to-two hours. The drug has a half-life of around 30 hours following oral ingestion.

Patients can expect to begin feeling the effects of Diflucan within a day after initially taking the drug.

However, recovery generally depends on the dosage of the medication as well as the severity of the infection.

Studies indicate that patients with yeast infections in the vagina can generally experience an improvement in their symptoms within three days after taking a single dose of the drug.

Side effects of Diflucan

Common side effects of Diflucan may include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, skin rash, and headaches. Rare and more serious side effects include severe skin disorders with symptoms such as blistering, itching, redness, and swelling.

Patients may experience allergic reactions to the drug. Symptoms generally include swelling of the face, mouth, and throat as well as breathing difficulties, rash, and itching.

If you experience an allergic reaction or other serious side effects such as liver or heart problems, seek immediate medical attention.

Diflucan may cause liver damage. Symptoms of liver damage or disease may include fever, stomach pain, dark urine, and jaundice.

Diflucan is not recommended for pregnant women.

This may be because of a risk of miscarriage or harm to the fetus. The drug is also not recommended for women who are breastfeeding because it may be found in breast milk.

Drug Interactions

There are several drugs that have significant interactions with Diflucan. These drugs include warfarin, birth control pills, losartan (blood pressure medication), antibiotics, and Benzodiazepines (sedatives).

It is not recommended to take Diflucan with erythromycin (antibiotic). Patients taking both these drugs together can be at an increased risk of developing heart problems.

Patients taking both Diflucan and birth control pills usually do not experience any adverse effects.

According to some clinical studies, taking Diflucan with birth control pills has led to a small increase in hormone levels in the blood.

These studies suggest Diflucan may likely not significantly affect the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Diflucan, taken along with anticoagulants such as warfarin, can potentially increase the time for blood to clot. This can lead to an increased risk of severe bleeding.

Patients taking Diflucan with Benzodiazepines may be at an elevated risk of sleepiness or drowsiness.

Diflucan can potentially lower the effects of Losartan, a medication used to treat high blood pressure.

This is because Diflucan prevents the metabolism of Losartan. In this case, the patient’s blood pressure is regularly monitored. 

Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking and your current health condition to see if Diflucan is right for you.

Written by Ranjani Sabarinathan, MSc


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  8. Hilbert J, Messig M, Kuye O, Friedman H. Evaluation of interaction between fluconazole and an oral contraceptive in healthy women. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Aug;98(2):218-23. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(01)01443-0. PMID: 11506836.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 



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