Balsalazide is a medication that treats active, mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. It is an oral prescription drug.
As with all drugs, it may have some adverse effects.
Balsalazide is a prescription drug available as a capsule and film-coated tablet. Both forms are oral, meaning a person takes them by mouth.
The capsules are available under the brand-name drug Colazal. They are also available as a generic drug.
Balsalazide belongs to a class of drugs called aminosalicylates.
Balsalazide is used to treat active, mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and sores in the colon, or large intestine.
With ulcerative colitis, the body makes more compounds called arachidonic acid metabolites, which may cause inflammation and sores.
Balsalazide appears to decrease these symptoms by stopping the production of such compounds in the colon.
Common side effects of balsalazide capsules include:
- pain in the abdomen or upper abdomen
- nausea, vomiting, or both
- respiratory infection
- joint and muscle pain
- a runny nose
- bloody diarrhea and rectal bleeding
- stomach cramps
The tablet form can cause anemia, diarrhea, a urinary tract infection, and throat pain.
Balsalazide can also trigger a flare-up of ulcerative colitis at the beginning of treatment. Contact a doctor if this happens.
The medication can also cause salicylate toxicity, which can be extremely serious if not quickly addressed. The signs of this include:
- vomiting blood
- rapid or deep breathing
- ringing in the ears
- temporary deafness
- lack of energy
- shortness of breath
Balsalazide should be taken cautiously or avoided with some other medications. It might increase the side effects of certain drugs, such as:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
A person should be sure to tell their doctor about all the medications they are taking.
Balsalazide may not be safe for people with the following conditions:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- pyloric stenosis
- intestinal obstruction
- kidney stones
A person who is pregnant or breastfeeding should tell their doctor this before taking balsalazide.
It is likely that older adults will receive regular blood cell counts during this treatment.
The doctor will also monitor for:
- mesalamine-induced acute intolerance syndrome, symptoms of which may resemble those of Crohn’s disease
- other hypersensitivity reactions, including myocarditis and pericarditis
- changes to liver and kidney function
People should also avoid sun exposure if they already have a skin condition, as balsalazide can increase photosensitivity.
Children under the age of 18 years should not take balsalazide tablets. This drug form does not have approval for use in this age group. In capsule form, it is approved for children ages 5–17 years to take the drug for up to a maximum of 8 weeks.
The typical dosage of balsalazide is three 750-milligram (mg) capsules three times per day for up to 8 weeks. For some people, a doctor may prescribe it for up to 12 weeks but no longer.
For children aged 5–17, a doctor may prescribe either one 750 mg capsule or three 225 mg capsules three times a day for up to 8 weeks.
People on low-sodium diets may wish to speak with their doctor before taking balsalazide. The capsules and pills have a high sodium content and could affect intake.
Different brands may offer pills of different sizes and have different recommended dosages.
Always check the packaging for instructions.
A person should talk with their doctor before suddenly stopping this medication. Stopping the medication might worsen their condition and symptoms.
Here are several extra considerations to bear in mind when transporting, acquiring, or storing balsalazide:
- Balsalazide is safe to take with or without food.
- Do not crush or chew balsalazide.
- Do not cut balsalazide tablets.
- Store balsalazide at room temperature away from moisture.
- When traveling, always have balsalazide to hand. Do not store it in checked luggage when flying, and keep the prescription-labeled box with the medication.
- Do not store balsalazide in the glove compartment of a car in extreme temperatures.
For those who have trouble swallowing, balsalazide capsules may be opened, sprinkled on applesauce, and then swallowed immediately.