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balsalazide (bal SAL a zide)
What is balsalazide?
Balsalazide is an anti-inflammatory drug which acts on the lining of the colon to reduce inflammation. Bacteria in the colon activate this drug by releasing the active anti-inflammatory drug, mesalamine.
What is it used for?
This drug is used to treat ulcerative colitis and ulcerative proctitis. It may be helpful in treating Crohn’s colitis and lymphocytic or microscopic colitis.
How do I take it?
The usual dose is 3 capsules a day, taken at evenly spaced intervals. This drug may be taken with or without food. Keep all medications away from children. Never share your medications with anyone else.
What do I do for a missed dose?
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not double up on this medicine.
Are there interactions with food or beverages?
Balsalazide may be taken with food or milk. There are no known interactions with food.
Are there interactions with other drugs?
An interaction generally means that one drug may increase or decrease the effect of another drug. Also, the more medications a person takes, the more likely there will be a drug interaction.There are no known interactions between balsalazide and other drugs. Always tell your physician all the drugs you are taking.
Is there a problem if I have another disorder or disease?
At times, a drug may have a different or enhanced effect when other diseases are present. At other times, the drug may worsen or effect another disease. Caution is recommended in patients with severe kidney disease.
What about allergies?
People who have known allergies or asthma may be at an increased risk for a reaction from any new medication. The physician should always know a patient’s allergy history. Signs of an allergic reaction are skin rash, hives, fever or shortness of breath. Of course, a person should not take balsalazide if there has been a previous reaction to this drug, mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Rowasa), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) or salicylates (aspirin).
What if I’m pregnant, considering pregnancy or breast-feeding?
Most females now know that, if possible, no drug, including alcohol, should be taken during pregnancy or lactation. The potential danger, of course, is an injury to the baby. However, some drugs are much safer than others in this regard. So, the FDA has a grading system for each drug which reflects what is known medically. It ranks. drugs from A, where medical studies show no evidence for danger to the fetus or mother, to B, C, D and X, where the medical evidence indicates that the risk to the fetus outweighs any benefit to the mother. Balsalazide is ranked B. Always consult your physician before taking any drug during or when planning pregnancy.
What are the effects on sexual function?
There are no known adverse effects of balsalazide on sexual function.
Are there other precautions?
Patients with chronic liver or kidney disease should be followed carefully by the physician. Blood tests may be necessary.
How long is it safe to take balsalazide?
Regular use of 1 to 3 weeks is usually necessary to determine the effectiveness of balsalazide. Since the drug was released in 2001, long-term benefits and safety have not been determined. However, other drugs in this category are safe and effective long-term.
How about side effects?
Adverse reactions can occur with any drug, even over-the-counter medications. Some of these are mild such as a stomach upset, which may be avoided by taking the medication with food. Minor reactions may go away on their own but if they persist, contact the physician. For major reactions, the patient should contact the physician immediately.
For balsalazide, the following are the observed side effects:
- stomach cramps
- muscle aches
- respiratory infection
- increased blood in stool
A physician’s comment…
Balsalazide belongs to the group of drugs called 5-amino salicylates. They have been around a long time and have been found to be effective in treating ulcerative colitis. Preliminary studies indicate that balsalazide may provide faster relief of symptoms than previous mediations.