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What You Need To Know About Asacol (Mesalamine)

Prescribing, Dosing, Side Effects, And Use During Pregnancy

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Updated November 29, 2012

What is Asacol?

Asacol is used to treat inflammation in the large intestine in people who have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Asacol is one form of mesalamine -- other forms include Pentasa and Rowasa.

How is Asacol taken?

In order for Asacol to be effective, the pills must be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed. The outer coating or shell of the pill may pass through the body whole and is not a cause for alarm, but should be mentioned to the prescirbing physician.

Why is Asacol prescribed?

Asacol is used as a maintenance drug--it is helpful in retaining a remission but not in supressing a flare-up. It is typically, but not always, used for ulcerative colitis and ulcerative proctitis. The reason why Asacol helps to treat intestinal inflammation is still poorly understood.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up, or take more than one dose at a time.

Who should not take Asacol?

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any of the following conditions:

  • Chicken pox vaccination in prior 6 weeks
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney disease

What are the side effects?

Serious side effects of Asacol include fever, severe headache, and sudden or severe abdominal pain. Minor side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, headache which may resolve on their own. See the Mesalamine side effects page for a complete list.

Are there any sexual side effects?

Asacol is not known to cause any sexual side effects in either men or women.

What medications can Asacol interact with?

Asacol is not known to interact with other medications. People who have had an adverse reaction to sulfasalazine (Azulfadine) may also be sensitive to Asacol.

Are there any food interactions?

There are no known food interactions with Asacol.

Is Asacol safe during pregnancy?

The FDA has classified Asacol as a type B drug. The effect that Asacol has on an unborn child has not been studied extensively. Asacol should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed. Notify the prescribing doctor if you become pregnant while taking Asacol. Asacol does pass into breast milk, and could affect a nursing infant.

How long can Asacol be taken safely?

Under the supervision of a physician, Asacol can be safely used long-term.

Amber J. Tresca

Amber J. Tresca
About.com Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

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