The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications only as recommended by your doctor and according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications are prescribed to help control inflammation and other symptoms.
Aminosalicylates (5-ASA) SulfasalazineMesalamineBalsalazideOlsalazineRectal administration forms (Rowasa enema, Canasa suppository)
Immune Modifiers Azathioprine6-mercaptopurineMethotrexate
Biologic Therapy InfliximabAdalimumabCertolizumab pegol
Common names include: SulfasalazineMesalamineBalsalazideOlsalazineRectal administration forms (Rowasa enema, Canasa suppository)
Aminosalicylate drugs help control inflammation in the colon. Precisely how they work is unknown. The active ingredient is released after bacteria in the bowel metabolize the drug.
Possible side effects include: Nausea and vomitingHeartburnDiarrheaHeadacheSkin rash
Common names include: PrednisoneMethylprednisoloneBudesonide
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system. They are ordered for more severe episodes of inflammatory bowel disease. They may be taken by mouth, injected, or given by enema or suppository. Do not suddenly stop taking these medications. Follow your doctor’s instructions for tapering the dose.
Possible side effects include: Increased risk of infectionWeight gainHigh blood pressure
Mood swings and
Common names include: Azathioprine6-
Immune modifiers block the immune response that helps produce inflammation. These drugs take a long time (months) to work and are usually started with another, more fast-acting drug.
Possible side effects include: Bone marrow suppressionIncreased risk of infectionNausea and vomitingDiarrhea
Common names include: MetronidazoleAmpicillinCiprofloxacin
Antibiotics are given to treat infections. In Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the bowel wall is more susceptible to infection once the lining of the small or large intestine is damaged. Infections are caused when bacteria penetrate the bowel wall. Antibiotics may also be prescribed before bowel surgery. Take antibiotics with food to decrease stomach upset. It is very important that you finish the complete course of therapy. Do not stop taking the antibiotics even if you feel better. Do not drink alcohol while taking antibiotics.
Possible side effects include: Upset stomachDiarrheaVaginal yeast infectionsBacterial colitis
Common names include: InfliximabAdalimumabCertolizumab pegol
These drugs have been approved to treat Crohn’s disease that does not respond to other treatments. This medication is a TNF-inhibitor, a genetically engineered antibody that binds specifically to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and blocks its activity in the body. Infliximab is infused into a vein at prescribed intervals. Adalimumab and certolizumab can be given at home.
Possible side effects include: Difficulty breathingHivesHeadacheInfection
Increased risk for children and teens to develop
and other types of cancer
Common names include: Diphenoxylate-atropineLoperamideCodeine
These drugs are given to manage diarrhea during active episodes of the disease. They slow movement through the intestines. Although loperamide in liquid form is available without a prescription, the prescription-only capsule form is used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Possible side effects include: DrowsinessConstipation
When you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines: Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule. Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.Plan ahead for refills if you need them.Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.Drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one drug, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
Contact your doctor if: You develop side effects from your medicationsYour medications do not bring relief of symptoms
FeverBleedingWorsening abdominal pain or diarrhea
Crohn's disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed October 1, 2015.
IBD. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
http://www.gastro.org/patient-care/conditions-diseases/ibd. Accessed October 1, 2015.
Types of medications. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.ccfa.org/resources/types-of-medications.html. Accessed October 1, 2015.
Ulcerative colitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 21, 2015. Accessed October 1, 2015.
12/3/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Zabana Y, Domènech E, Mañosa M, et al.
Infliximab safety profile and long-term applicability in inflammatory bowel disease: 9-year experience in clinical practice.
Aliment Pharmacol Ther.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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