How is Flovent HFA Used?
This medication is an inhaled corticosteroid that is administered orally through inhalation. Patients will use the inhaler as prescribed, usually twice per day, to help reduce the level of inflammation in their airways and prevent asthma-related symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing. This medication is not a replacement for a patient’s rescue inhaler and is only used as a daily, long-term preventative medication.
Patients should store their inhaler at room temperature, keeping it within the range of 68°F (20°C) to 77°F (25°C). Temporary exposure to temperatures as low as 59°F (15°) or as high as 86?F (30°C) may be permitted as needed. The inhaler should also be stored with the mouthpiece facing downward.
This medication should not be exposed to temperatures exceeding 120°F (49°C), and it should not be stored near open flames or any heat sources due to the risk of the device bursting. The inhaler should not be punctured due to its pressurized contents, and it should never be thrown into any type of incinerator or fire.
Keep this medication out of the reach of children at all times.
Flovent HFA is prescribed for the prevention and management of asthma symptoms.
How Does Flovent HFA Work?
As a corticosteroid, Flovent HFA is an anti-inflammatory medication that functions by reducing the amount of inflammation within a patient’s airways when inhaled to prevent and manage asthma-related symptoms. By reducing the amount of inflammation, this medication helps to decrease the severity and frequency of asthma attacks in the individuals using this medication.
This inhaler is available in three different strengths:
- 44 mcg per actuation
- 110 mcg per actuation
- 220 mcg per actuation
The patient’s required dosage of this medication will be determined by their physician based on their previous history as it pertains to asthma and any medications used and may be modified as needed. Most commonly, those who are just beginning to use this medication will start with an initial dose of two inhalations (two doses of 44 mcg) administered 12 hours apart each day.
If an overdose has occurred or is suspected, the individual’s physician or local Poison Control Center should be contacted. If someone has ingested too much of this medication and experiences symptoms such as breathing difficulties or losing consciousness, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately.
This medication is associated with a number of side effects. The most common side effects of taking Flovent HFA are as follows:
- changes in one’s voice
- congestion (nasal)
- runny nose
- sleep difficulties
- sore mouth
- sore throat
- sore tongue
Patients should contact their physician if any of these side effects remain persistent or become severe.
Some of the following additional side effects may also occur, and these should be reported to your doctor immediately:
- bone fractures
- bone pain
- cataracts or glaucoma symptoms
- blurry vision
- discomfort in the eyes
- eye pain
- increased eye pressure
- redness of the eyes
- seeing colorful halos when looking at lights
- changes in behavior
- Churg-Strauss Syndrome
- numbness in the legs or arms
- “pins and needles” sensation in the arms or legs
- sinus congestion
- sinus pain
- worsening of breathing difficulties
- decreased adrenal function
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- easier skin bruising
- growth slowing down (pediatric patients)
- excessive hunger and eating
- frequent urination
- fruity odor to the breath
- increased thirst
- weight loss without an explanation
- wounds that don’t heal well
- infections that occur more frequently or easily
- loss of ability to speak
- respiratory tract infection symptoms
- breathing difficulties
- chest tightness
- dizziness (prolonged or severe)
- shortness of breath
- weight loss
- symptoms of corticosteroid overuse
- increase in sweating
- muscle weakness
- roundness of the face
- skin thinning
- weight gain that occurs rapidly
- sore throat
- white patches in the throat and mouth
Please seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following side effects after using Flovent HFA:
- allergic reaction symptoms
- breathing difficulties
- cramps in the abdomen
- swelling of the throat and face
- skin rash
- sudden shortness of breath after using the inhaler
- wheezing after using the inhaler
- worsening of asthma symptoms
Warnings & Precautions
This inhaler does not function as a rescue inhaler for those experiencing sudden asthma symptoms. Patients using this medication that still require the use of a rescue inhaler to alleviate serious symptoms should still carry and use such an inhaler while also using Flovent HFA as a long-term preventative medication.
Those who use this medication or any other corticosteroids for the long term are at an increased risk of experiencing bone fractures as well as having their bone density impacted by such medications. When using this medication, patients should typically have their bone health monitored for the duration of treatment.
This medication can cause patients to have an increase in their blood glucose levels. Individuals using this medication that are diabetic may need to more frequently and more closely monitor their blood sugar levels.
Individuals using this medication should regularly have their eyes checked to monitor for signs of developing cataracts or glaucoma, as this medication has been linked to the development as well as the worsening of these conditions. Those who already have either of these conditions should have their eyes checked before beginning a long-term treatment plan that includes Flovent HFA.
Adolescents and children using this medication may experience slowed growth as a result of corticosteroid use. The lowest possible dose of this medication should be used in this age group to reduce the likelihood of impaired growth occurring while still allowing the patient to effectively manage their asthma symptoms.
Any individuals using this inhaler should be careful regarding exposure to infections, as corticosteroid medications may suppress the symptoms of an active infection and delay such conditions from being recognized. If you are currently using this inhaler and are exposed to someone with an active infection, such as measles or chickenpox, you should contact your physician for further guidance.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
It has not been determined if this medication is safe for use during pregnancy. Patients that are currently pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or who become pregnant while using this medication should discuss the potential risks that may exist during the first trimester.
This medication is capable of passing into breast milk, and those using Flovent HFA who are desiring to breastfeed should discuss the potential risks with their physician, as the presence of this medication in the patient’s milk may affect the breastfed child.
One of the potential risks associated with using this inhaled medication is the development of thrush (candidiasis) within a patient’s mouth. Individuals using this inhaler should be sure to rinse their mouth out well after using the inhaler and practice proper oral hygiene to reduce the likelihood of developing this condition. If a patient develops an infection, additional medical care (such as antifungal treatments) may be required, or the patient may need to stop using Flovent HFA.
Those with hypothyroidism (decreased function of the thyroid) may experience more intense effects when using an inhaled corticosteroid medication. Any individual with impaired thyroid function or a history of hypothyroidism should inform their physician of this before using Flovent HFA, as this may impact the required dosage for treatment and also impact other aspects of the patient’s health. In some cases, monitoring may be required.
Some individuals using this medication may experience spasms in their airways directly after using their Flovent inhaler. If this occurs, the patient’s rescue inhaler should be used immediately to alleviate such symptoms, and they should be sure to inform their prescribing physician of this occurrence as soon as possible.
This medication should not be abruptly stopped, as this may cause the patient to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as a worsening of their asthma or stomach-related discomfort, due to suppressed adrenal glands. If a patient needs to stop using Flovent HFA, they should discuss the matter with their physician to determine the safest manner in which to lower the dosage of the medication and successfully wean off of using the inhaler.
Worsening of Asthma
Despite the use of Flovent HFA, if a patient’s required use of a bronchodilator to manage their asthma symptoms increases, this is an indicator that their condition may be getting worse. Due to the serious health risks presented by worsening asthma, any individuals that are requiring more frequent use of a rescue inhaler should inform their physician as soon as possible, and increasing their dose of Flovent may assist in reducing such symptoms and better managing the condition.
Speak to your doctor about any medications or herbal supplements you are currently taking before beginning treatment with this medication. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or a trusted pharmacist.
The following medications are known to interact with Flovent HFA:
- “-azole” antifungals
- calcium channel blockers
- diabetes medications
- grapefruit juice
- HIV protease inhibitors
- macrolide antibiotics
- protein kinase inhibitors
- tobacco (smoked)
For patients who are unable to take Flovent HFA or experiencing significant adverse side effects, alternative medications may be used to treat some of the associated conditions for which this medication is commonly prescribed:
- albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA)
- budesonide/formoterol (Symbicort)
- ciclesonide (Alvesco)
- fluticasone (Flovent Diskus)
- fluticasone/furoate (Arnuity Ellipta)
- fluticasone/salmeterol (Advair HFA)
- fluticasone/solmeterol (Advair Diskus)
- mometasone (Asmanex HFA, Asmanex Twisthaler)
- montelukast (Singulair)
- omalizumab (Xolair)
- triamcinolone acetonide (Azmacort)