Asacol® is a brand name for the generic medication mesalamine. It is an anti-inflammatory drug that is prescribed to treat ulcerative colitis, which is a condition in which the lining of the large intestine is damaged or swollen. While Asacol® is not a cure for this bowel disease, it can help alleviate symptoms, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, and rectal bleeding.
This medication is available as a tablet and a capsule, as well as a suppository and enema. Patients will typically be instructed to take the capsule four times daily or the tablet three times daily. Those taking the tablets should never break or crush them, as they have a protective coating that prevents damage to the stomach. The capsules may be emptied into a glass of water if the patient has trouble swallowing them. In addition to the oral medication, patients will likely be instructed to use either the suppository or enema form of Asacol®, which are intended for rectal use only. Patients should follow the doctor's instructions to use these medications, which are usually administered before bedtime.
Asacol® may cause side effects, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they persist or become severe. Patients may notice back pain, joint or muscle pain, or headache. Flu-like symptoms, insomnia, and anxiety may occur, and some patients may experience nausea and vomiting, constipation, and slight hair loss. Insomnia, pain in the rectum, and hemorrhoids may also occur.
Severe side effects from the use of Asacol® can require immediate medical help. These may include shortness of breath, chest pain, and swelling. Some people may notice bloody urine, changes in urination frequency, and black or tarry stools. Vomit that has the appearance of coffee grounds or bloody vomit may be dangerous. In addition, signs of a possible allergic reaction to this medication can include facial swelling, problems breathing, and hives.
Patients taking Asacol® should alert the doctor if they take other medications or supplements, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), digoxin, or other ulcerative colitis drugs. Some antibiotics, antiviral medications, and cancer drugs may also interact with Asacol®. Patients who are pregnant should discuss the risks of birth defects with their doctors. This medication should never be used by a woman who is breastfeeding, as it can pass into breast milk.