Balsalazide

Balsalazide is used to manage the inflammation that occurs throughout one’s life. Stress or food can trigger an occurrence and genetics may be linked to the cause, since it seems to run in families.

Overview

Balsalazide works inside of the intestines, reducing the flare-ups or inflammation that happens when our immune system mistakes food or bacteria as an invader. Our body goes into a defense mode and attacks the linings of our intestines, leading to painful ulcers. The exact cause of ulcerative colitis (UC) is unknown - the disorder has been associated with genetics and specific health factors. Studies suppose infants born to mothers with UC are at greater risk of developing the condition. UC drug treatments commence in children as young as five years of age, teenagers and adults.

It shares characteristics and symptoms with Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome but there is no cure for the condition. It is important to visit your doctor once incidences occur as balsalazide can manage the symptoms.

This drug belongs to a group called aminosalicylates, it decreases the symptoms of UC like diarrhea, stomach pain and rectal bleeding. One feature of the drug is its ability to prevent further episodes when taken as prescribed under a doctor’s supervision. Follow the doctor’s instructions on using balasalazide could keep the condition in remission and prevent the need for surgery. If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

Condition(s) Treated

  • Ulcerative colitis

Type of medicine

  • Balsalazide, Oral Route

Side Effects

Medical studies have proven the effectiveness of drugs like balsalazide to treat health disorders and diseases – yet in some cases, there are side effects that can be detrimental to our health and inconvenient to our lives. The side effects vary depending on your health condition and most are not serious, but if they persist or worsen, you need to talk with your doctor about the symptoms. There may be options to lessen the pain and the frequency of side effects.

If you have existing conditions, a family history of the disease or specific sensitivities to this medicine, share this information with your doctor before starting treatment. Individuals, with kidney problems or heart disease, may experience more serious health threats associated with this drug.

Balsalazide can cause a flare-up of ulcerative colitis with beginning treatments – they subside with treatment. Here’s a list of the possible effects – keep in mind, your health and lifestyle may influence other effects not listed. If you experience side effects, do not stop taking the medicine until you contact your doctor or pharmacist.

More common

  • Cold symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Skin rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

Least common

  • Back pain
  • Bladder problems
  • Bloody stool
  • Bloody urine
  • Change in urinating
  • Loss of voice
  • Mild headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle pain
  • No appetite
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in the ankles or knees
  • Painful, red lumps under the skin
  • Pale skin
  • Sore throat

Rare, but these do occur depending on your health.

  • Breath odor
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Constant thirst
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Weight gain
  • Wheezing
  • Yellowing eyes

Not all side effects are an emergency, but it’s important to ask for medical attention. As your body absorbs the medications, many of the effects will fade away, for any reason if they linger, you need to contact your doctor. There are options to ease the effect or prevent it, so check with your doctor and be ready to ask questions about how your health condition relates to the effects.

Immediate attention

If you are diagnosed with UC and experience any of these side effects, you need to contact your doctor at once.

  • Fever over 101°F (38.3°C) or severe chills
  • Fainting spells
  • Rapid heart rate
  • No urination over a twelve-hour span even with liquid consumption
  • Pus drainage or sever pain around the anal area.
  • Body has shut down for passing any stools or gas

Allergic reactions are rare with this medicine, but from time to time, they can happen and they can be serious. If you experience any of these effects while taking balsalazide contact your doctor. If you have allergies to foods, dyes, preservatives or animals, tell your doctor. Many times the compounds in medicines contain similar elements that trigger an allergic response.

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face/tongue/throat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

Age groups involving both children and mature adults have a few precautions when treating this condition with balsalazide:

  • Young children are still developing and symptoms and reactions may extend beyond the common or most common side effects.
  • Elderly adults suffer with blood problems due to age, physical and biological changes and kidney functions.

Your doctor will take extra precautions when prescribing this medication to both of the groups. If you are the caretaker, simple side effects should be reported as they can develop into more serious health conditions when left unattended.

If you pregnant or trying to conceive, you should not take this medication. Tell your doctor if you suspect you are pregnant as there may be other options to ensure delivery of a healthy child. If you are taking the drug, talk with your doctor about using adequate measures to prevent pregnancy.

  • Balsalazide may have adverse effects on an unborn child.
  • Breastfeeding should be avoided at all times.

Dosage

Balsalazide is available in both capsule or tablet forms and needs to be taken as directed by your doctor. You can take this medication with or without food, three times a day, or as prescribed. If you have trouble swallowing, you can open the capsule or crush the tablet and sprinkle the contents onto a spoon - be sure to swallow all of the contents during each scheduled dose.

Dosage is based on your health and the severity of your condition. Do not increase the dosage even if the pain or symptoms become more severe. Talk with your doctor. Keep taking the medications even if you feel better – remember this condition is susceptible to flare-ups, so continually taking the medicine as directed by your doctor prevents these surprise occurrences.

  • Adults are prescribed one capsule of 750 milligrams, three times a day for eight weeks.
  • Treatment may extend to twelve weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.

If the condition worsens or other side effects develop, contact your doctor.

  • Children five years or older are prescribed one to three capsules per day depending on the situation – each capsule is 750 milligrams.
  • Sprinkling the contents onto a spoonful of applesauce may help with swallowing.

Acute flare-ups (conditions are severe and sudden) respond to treatment with limited side effects after long-term use of this medicine. In some cases, the condition is chronic (lasting longer than 3 months). Doctors need to monitor any changes in the condition – if no inflammation is present, testing for inflammation every two years is recommended.

Missed Dose

Take the missed dose as soon as possible – the only exception is if it’s time for the next dose. When this happens take only the scheduled dose and notify your doctor of the missed dose.

  • DO NOT take multiple doses – it can have serious effects on your health and this condition.
  • DO NOT share this medication with others.

Interactions

Drug interactions may change how medications work with your condition. They may also increase the risk of serious side effects or trigger other health disorders.

When taking this medicine, be sure to provide all of your medical information to your doctor. If you are taking any of these medications now, it may affect your body’s response to balsalazide. The dosage may be changed by the doctor along with the scheduling of the UC medications to avoid interactions when managing all of your medications for better health.

  • Ambien
  • Aspirin
  • Azathiprine
  • Beta Cyclodextrin
  • Budesonide
  • Celecoxib
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Escitalopram
  • Folic acid
  • Indomethacin
  • Infliximab
  • Mercaptopurine
  • Mesalamine
  • Methotrexate
  • Nexium
  • Omeprazole
  • Prednisone
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Varicella Virus Vaccine

Other interactions occur with foods, vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, alcohol and tobacco. You may need to change your diet and a few lifestyle routines allowing your body to benefit from this medication. Talk with your doctor.

A medical condition called pyloric stenosis occurs most often in infants. With pyloric stenosis the opening between the stomach and the small intestine is narrowed and prevents food or medicine from passing. It may delay the processing of balsalazide, increasing the risk of side effects. You need to talk with your doctor.

Warnings

Warnings provide health care professionals with known risk factors for making sound decisions on individual health circumstances and the current medical care. The information collected about drug allergies, medication responses affecting medical conditions are all associated with the course of illness and recovery of a doctor’s patient.

During treatment, whether short or long term, the warnings help caretakers to recognize the early signs. Early detection helps to prevent unwanted health disorders before they develop into conditions that are more serious.

Balsalazide affects two such health disorders:

  • Kidney damage - If you have kidney damage or a history of kidney disease, talk to your doctor before starting this medication.
  • Worsen liver problems or cause liver failure – If you suffer from a dysfunctional liver or have a history of liver disease, talk with your doctor.

You should not take balsalazide without the supervision of your doctor. Your doctor may also schedule regular tests to help monitor the existing condition and prevent it from getting worse. Regular testing may help to identify early signs of flare-ups.

Allergies

Balsalazide can trigger life-threatening allergic reactions. Individuals with allergic sensitivities to balsalazide or any of its chemical compounds will start to feel the symptoms shortly after taking the medication. This drug interacts with asthma and you may develop breathing problems that cause the airways to swell. This response is serious and can be fatal.

  • If you have allergic reactions to salicylates – DO NOT take this medication.
  • An allergy to salicylates may cause
  • Anaphylaxs - your immune system releases chemicals causing you to go into shock.
  • Bronchospasm – abnormal contractions of the bronchial muscles will cause blockage of the respiratory airways.

If you do experience any of these reactions you need to call for emergency help or go to the nearest emergency room.

Blood Counts

U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted warnings about balsalazide increasing white blood cell count in some individuals. The right volume of white blood cells help to fight infection – elevated levels are signs of another health problem related to infections, stress, inflammation, trauma or allergies. The reports divided age groups into increments of nine years - the two age groups at risk are listed:

  • Young adults between the years of 20 to 29
  • Followed next by 50 to 59 years of age

Although younger adults were more likely to experience an increase in white blood cells, both age groups are at risk when introducing balsalazide into the body. Talk with your doctor about precautions before starting treatment.

Dietary Limits

This medication contains sodium. If you are on a salt restricted diet, this medicine could increase your salt intake and cause heart failure. Too much salt in the bloodstream causes the body to hold water to dilute the sodium. Check the food labels - many foods contain salt that can cause a reaction.

  • Pressure can harden the blood vessels leading to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
  • Excess sodium can damage the heart, aorta, or kidneys.

Diets need to refrain from uncooked vegetables, seeds, nuts or high roughage foods as they can cause obstructions or irritations counteracting the drug treatment. Check with your doctor, as liquid supplements may help to ease the effects while providing nourishments.

Childhood Diseases

Balsalazide is similar to aspirin – some childhood diseases and vaccinations react to this medicine causing serious illness. If your child has the chicken pox or flu they should not take this medication. Caution is needed when administering high or low doses of aspirin to children. Always check with the doctor.

Storage

All medicines should be stored out of reach of children and pets. This medicine should be kept in its airtight container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture and direct light. DO NOT freeze. All of these conditions could alter the effect of the drug.

  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Do not flush medications or pour them into a drain.

Expired or no longer needed medications needs to discarded. Contact your pharmacist, doctor or local health facility and they will dispose of the medication for you.

Summary

Reports of remission in most patients being treated for ulcerative colitis occur with this drug. The advantage of balsalazide compared to other drugs is the high level of tolerance for the patients over short or long-term durations. Another benefit is the minimum side effects when individuals take this medicine daily. In addition, patients appear to respond faster with this medication, increasing higher rates of remission with good, healthy recovery.

Overall, this medicine proves to be an effective option for patients with UC, treating active mild-to-moderate levels of the disorder. Working as a maintenance treatment it has prevented a relapse of the condition.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017