Lialda (mesalamine) is a prescription brand-name medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat moderately active ulcerative colitis (UC). It can be used in adults and in children who weigh at least 24 kilograms (about 53 pounds).

UC is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It causes swelling and ulcers (sores) in your colon (large intestine) and rectum. UC is a chronic (long-term) condition, and you’ll likely take Lialda long term if you and your doctor agree that it’s effective for you.

Here are some fast facts on Lialda:

  • Active ingredient: mesalamine
  • Drug class: aminosalicylate
  • Drug form: delayed-release* oral tablet

Like other drugs, Lialda can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of Lialda, including details about its uses, see this article.

* Delayed release means that the drug is released into your body slowly over time.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Lialda in clinical studies. These side effects can vary depending on whether the drug was taken by adults or children.

More common side effects in adults include:

More common side effects in children and adolescents include:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Mild side effects can occur with Lialda. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Lialda’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects that have been reported with Lialda include:

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Lialda and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Lialda may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Lialda’s prescribing information.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Lialda, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects that have been reported and their symptoms include:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Lialda may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

Are there side effects of stopping Lialda treatment?

No, stopping Lialda doesn’t cause side effects. But it’s important to note that your ulcerative colitis (UC) symptoms may get worse if you stop taking Lialda.

If you have questions about what to expect after stopping Lialda, talk with your pharmacist or doctor. You should not stop or change your Lialda treatment without first talking with your doctor.

Do Lialda’s side effects include weight gain?

No. Weight gain wasn’t a side effect reported by people taking Lialda in clinical studies.

Some other medications used to treat UC may cause weight gain. These include corticosteroids such as prednisone.

Also, it’s possible that if Lialda reduces your UC symptoms, you may be able to have a less restricted diet. This can result in weight gain for some people.

If you have questions or concerns about your weight, talk with your healthcare professional. They can recommend ways to reach or maintain a weight that’s healthy for you.

How long do Lialda’s side effects last? Are any long term?

Side effects caused by Lialda are usually temporary, and last for a few days or weeks.

But some side effects can be long term, including liver problems and kidney problems. Liver problems Lialda may cause are discussed in more detail in “Side effect specifics” below.

While taking Lialda, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have side effects that last longer than a few days, bother you, or become severe.

Can Lialda cause ringing in the ears? Or side effects that affect the eyes?

No. When taken as prescribed, Lialda isn’t known to cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or eye-related side effects.

Taking too much Lialda can cause tinnitus. But the drug doesn’t cause this with typical doses for treating UC. Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about possible side effects.

Is stomach pain one of Lialda’s side effects?

Yes, abdominal (belly) pain is one of Lialda’s more common side effects. Keep in mind that stomach pain is also a common symptom of UC.

If you have abdominal or stomach pain while taking Lialda, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help evaluate whether this is a UC symptom, a side effect of Lialda, or both. They can also recommend ways to help treat this side effect.

What are the side effects of the generic version of Lialda?

The generic version of Lialda is mesalamine. Mesalamine is the active drug in Lialda. The side effects of the generic version of Lialda are the same as the brand-name version.

The “Mild side effects” and “Serious side effects” sections above list some side effects Lialda may cause. For a complete list of side effects this medication may cause, you can refer to Lialda’s prescribing information. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Lialda may cause.

Hair loss

Hair loss was rarely reported as a side effect by people taking Lialda in clinical studies.

Hair loss was reported only when Lialda was taken to induce (cause) remission (a period of few or no symptoms) in people with ulcerative colitis (UC). Doses for this use are sometimes higher than doses prescribed to maintain remission. People taking Lialda to maintain remission didn’t report hair loss.

What you can do

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have hair loss while taking Lialda. They may suggest ways to treat this side effect, which may include stopping treatment with Lialda.

Joint pain

It’s possible to have joint pain from Lialda. This was a side effect reported in clinical studies of the drug.

Keep in mind that joint pain can also be caused by an inflammatory bowel disease such as UC.

What you can do

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have joint pain while taking Lialda. They may suggest a treatment, such as an over-the-counter pain medication. But this could depend on other medical conditions you may have or medications you take. They may also suggest trying a medication other than Lialda.

Dizziness

Dizziness wasn’t reported as a side effect by people taking Lialda in clinical studies. But it has been reported since the drug was approved.

Dizziness can also happen if you overdose (take too high of a dose) with Lialda.

What you can do

Make sure to take Lialda exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have dizziness while taking Lialda. They may suggest ways to treat this side effect. They may also suggest trying a medication other than Lialda.

Liver problems

Although rare, taking Lialda can cause liver problems. This can include liver failure in people who already have liver problems.

In clinical studies, liver problems weren’t reported in people who didn’t already have liver problems.

Lialda can cause increased liver enzymes. This was one of the more common side effects in adults taking the drug in studies. Increased liver enzymes on blood tests can be a sign of liver damage.

Symptoms of liver problems can include:

What you can do

Before you begin taking Lialda, tell your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have or have had any liver-related conditions. Also tell them about all medications you take. Your doctor will use this information to determine your risk of liver damage if you’re prescribed Lialda.

Contact your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of liver problems while taking Lialda. They’ll likely want to see you to evaluate your symptoms further.

Mesalamine-induced acute tolerance syndrome

Although rare, Lialda can cause a side effect called mesalamine-induced acute tolerance syndrome. Mesalamine is the active drug in Lialda.

This side effect can cause:

  • stomach cramps
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea that contains blood
  • fever
  • headache
  • rash

It can be difficult to tell whether these symptoms are mesalamine-induced acute tolerance syndrome, or symptoms of a UC flare-up.

It’s not known what causes mesalamine-induced acute intolerance syndrome, or who may be at higher risk. There currently isn’t a way to predict who may get this side effect.

What you can do

Contact your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of mesalamine-induced acute intolerance syndrome. Your doctor will likely have you stop taking Lialda, and can recommend other treatments for your UC.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Lialda can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking Lialda. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Lialda is approved for treating ulcerative colitis (UC) in children who weigh at least 24 kilograms (about 53 pounds).

More common side effects reported in children and adolescents taking Lialda for UC in clinical studies include:

Anemia, upper respiratory infection, and vomiting were all more common side effects in children taking Lialda for UC compared with adults.

In most cases, these side effects are mild. Rarely, anemia can become serious if red blood cell levels become low enough. Anemia may or may not cause symptoms. Be aware of anemia symptoms if your child is prescribed Lialda, including:

Contact your child’s doctor right away if you notice symptoms of anemia.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Lialda. This drug may not be the right treatment for your condition if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include:

Blocked upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Lialda tablets are designed to break up and release the drug in your lower intestine. Lialda may not be able to reach your small intestine if there’s a blockage in your upper GI tract. This includes your stomach and the upper part of your small intestine. A blockage in this area could cause Lialda to take longer to start working. Your doctor can help determine if Lialda is the best treatment for your UC.

Kidney problems. If you have kidney problems (such as chronic kidney disease), your body may not be able to get rid of Lialda as well. This increases your risk of side effects from the drug. In addition, Lialda may cause kidney problems or damage as a side effect. You may be at higher risk if you already have kidney problems. Your doctor can help determine if Lialda is safe to take with your kidney problems.

Liver problems. There are reports of people who already have liver problems experiencing liver failure after taking Lialda. For this reason, your doctor will want to monitor your liver health with blood tests while you’re taking Lialda if you already have liver problems. If your liver health shows signs of worsening, they may have you stop taking Lialda.

Skin problems, including dermatitis or eczema. There are reports of people with existing skin problems (such as dermatitis or eczema) becoming more sensitive to sun exposure after taking Lialda. This is called photosensitivity.

If you’re taking Lialda and you have skin problems such as dermatitis or eczema, you may need to take steps to reduce or avoid sun exposure. This may include wearing sunscreen and clothing to protect your skin from the sun. Your doctor can give you more information on how Lialda may affect your skin condition.

Allergic reaction, including allergy to a salicylate medication such as aspirin. You shouldn’t take Lialda if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Lialda or any of its ingredients. You also shouldn’t take Lialda if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to another salicylate medication. This includes aspirin, Azulfidine (sulfasalazine), or Colazal (balsalazide). Talk with your doctor about which other treatments are better choices for your condition.

Alcohol and Lialda

Alcohol isn’t known to interact with Lialda directly. But drinking alcohol could increase your risk of some side effects of Lialda. These include headache, nausea, and diarrhea.

And in some people with UC, alcohol can cause their symptoms to flare up.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much, if any, is safe for you to have while taking Lialda.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Lialda

Animal and human studies haven’t shown an increased risk of harm for you or your pregnancy if you take Lialda while pregnant. Guidelines recommend Lialda as a preferred treatment when prescribed for maintenance of UC remission (periods of few or no symptoms) while pregnant.

Lialda is safe to take while breastfeeding, according to the above guidelines. But it’s recommended that you monitor the breastfed child for diarrhea.

If you have questions about pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Lialda, talk with your doctor.

Like all drugs, Lialda can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild, and tend to go away on their own. But serious side effects are possible.

If you’d like to learn more about Lialda, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects of Lialda.

Besides talking with your doctor, you can do some research on your own. These articles might help:

  • More information on Lialda. For details on other aspects of Lialda, refer to this article.
  • Drug comparison. To learn how Lialda compares with Apriso and Asacol HD, read this article. To learn how Lialda compares with balsalazide, see this article.
  • A look at ulcerative colitis (UC). For details about your condition, see our list of UC articles.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.