Mesalamine is a medication used to treat inflammation and irritation of the bowel in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. This medication is intended for use in patients with mild to moderate bowel inflammation and it may not be as effective in patients with severe colon disease. A number of formats of mesalamine are available, including oral tablets, suppositories, and enemas. The medication may be taken at varying intervals, depending on the formulation and the need.
This medication acts to decrease inflammatory responses in the bowel, reducing pain and irritation. With delivery methods like extended release tablets and enemas, a single administration a day is usually sufficient. Fast-acting pills may need to be taken every six hours or at other intervals, depending on how well the patient responds. It usually takes several days for patients to notice an improvement while on this medication, especially if the colon is particularly irritated.
Common mesalamine side effects include abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and headaches. This medication can cause liver, kidney, or pancreas damage, especially in people with a prior history of disease in these organs, and it may not be recommended for people with existing organ problems. Patients with heart conditions may also be poor candidates for mesalamine therapy. A history of bad reactions to aspirin is also a contraindicator for this medication.
Typically, mesalamine is used as part of a larger treatment program for a patient. The diet may be adjusted to address concerns about triggering foods and the balance of fiber and other nutritional components. High fiber diets can help patients pass stools more reliably and easily, even when inflammation is occurring. Other medications can help to manage pain and flareups as needed, depending on the specifics of a patient's case, and patients may also be advised to consider adding exercise to their routine.
Bad reactions to mesalamine can occur, although they are rare. Patients who notice difficulty breathing, skin rashes, or extreme abdominal pain should discontinue use of the medication and talk to a doctor about other treatment options. If the colon condition grows worse over time, more aggressive treatments may need to be considered to address the problem. These can include other medications, surgery to remove damaged sections of bowel, or a surgery to resect the colon entirely in extreme cases. Seeing a doctor regularly to discuss symptoms can help people manage their conditions more effectively, reducing the need for radical surgery.