The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines 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 medicines 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.
Medicines are prescribed to help control inflammation and other symptoms.
Aminosalicylate Medicines (5-ASA) Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)Mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Apriso, Lialda)Balsalazide (Colazal)Olsalazine (Dipentum)Rectal administration forms (Rowasa enema, Canasa suppository)
Corticosteroids PrednisoneMethylprednisoloneBudesonide (Entocort EC)
Immune Modifiers Azathioprine (Imuran)6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol)Methotrexate (Folex)
Antibiotic Medicines Metronidazole (Flagyl)Ampicillin (Amoxil)Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
Biologic Therapy Infliximab (Remicade)Adalimumab (Humira)Certolizumab Pegol (Cimzia)
Antidiarrheal Medicines Diphenoxylate-atropine (Lomotil)Loperamide (Imodium)Codeine
Common names include: Sulfasalazine
(Dipentum)Rectal 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 medicines. 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: Azathioprine
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: Metronidazole
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: Infliximab
These drugs have been approved to treat Crohn’s disease that does not respond to other treatments. This medicine 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-atropine
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
Whenever you are taking a prescription medicine, take the following precautions: Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.Do not share them.Know what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor.Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicine and herb or dietary supplements.Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
Contact your doctor if: You develop side effects from your medicinesYour medicines do not bring relief of symptoms
FeverBleedingWorsening abdominal pain or diarrhea
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
http://www.gastro.org. Accessed March 6, 2006.
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America
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http://www.ccfa.org. Accessed March 6, 2006.
Mosby's Drug Consult. Mosby, Inc.; 2002.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed March 6, 2006.
Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000.
Rakel RE and Bope ET.
Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.
10/2/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: FDA approves new drug to treat psoriasis. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm183851.htm. Published September 25, 2009. Accessed October 2, 2009.
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 2014 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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