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Sulfasalazine

pronounced as (sul fa sal' a zeen)

Why is this medication prescribed?

Sulfasalazine is used to treat bowel inflammation, diarrhea (stool frequency), rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain in patients with ulcerative colitis, a condition in which the bowel is inflamed. Sulfasalazine delayed-release (Azulfidine EN-tabs) is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children whose disease has not responded well to other medications. Sulfasalazine is in a class of medications called anti-inflammatory drugs. It works by reducing inflammation (swelling) inside the body.

How should this medicine be used?

Sulfasalazine comes as regular and delayed-release (releases the medication in the intestine to prevent irritation to the stomach and to allow the medication to work in the intestine where its effects are needed) tablets. It usually is taken four times a day in evenly spaced doses throughout the day so that no more than 8 hours separates any two doses, if possible. Take sulfasalazine after a meal or with a light snack, then drink a full glass of water. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take sulfasalazine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Swallow tablets whole; do not crush or chew them.

Drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses of water or other beverage per day) while taking sulfasalazine.

Continue to take sulfasalazine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking sulfasalazine without talking to your doctor.

Other uses for this medicine

Sulfasalazine is also used to treat bowel inflammation, diarrhea (stool frequency), rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain in Crohn's disease. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking sulfasalazine,

  • tell your doctor if you are allergic to sulfasalazine, sulfapyridine, aspirin, choline magnesium trisalicylate (Triosal, Trilisate), choline salicylate (Arthropan), mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Rowasa), salsalate (Argesic-SA, Disalcid, Salgesic, others), sulfa drugs, trisalicylate (Tricosal, Trilisate),or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially digoxin (Lanoxin), folic acid, and vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, kidney or liver disease, porphyria, blood problems, or blockage in your intestine or urinary tract.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking sulfasalazine, call your doctor.
  • plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Sulfasalazine may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Sulfasalazine may cause side effects. Sulfasalazine causes temporary infertility in males. Fertility returns when the medicine is stopped. It can also cause your urine or skin to turn yellowish-orange; this effect is harmless.

Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain

If you have any of the following symptoms, stop taking sulfasalazine and call your doctor immediately:

  • skin rash
  • itching
  • hives
  • swelling
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • joint or muscle aches
  • pale or yellow skin
  • difficulty swallowing
  • tiredness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • weakness

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your response to sulfasalazine.

Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Azulfidine®
  • Azulfidine® EN-tabs®
Last Revised - 05/15/2017