Sulfasalazine is the general form of the proprietary Azulfidine drug, which is used to treat the symptoms of ulcerative colitis (a condition in which the intestines become inflamed).
The medication is sometimes used to help in the treatment of Crohn’s disease (another type of inflammatory bowel disease).
The long-acting form (Azulfidine EN-tabs) is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Azulphidine belongs to a class of drugs known as anti-inflammatory drugs. It works by reducing inflammation in the body.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sulfasalazine in 1950 for the first time. The medicine is produced as AzulfidinePfizer.
Before taking sulfasalazine, tell your doctor if you have or have ever experienced:
- Kidney or liver disease
- Porphyria (blood disorder)
- Other blood problems (such as anemia or low leukocyte counts)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid problems
- Deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) (hereditary state of the enzyme)
- Severe allergy or allergy to medicines
In men, this medicine can cause temporary infertility. All is normalized when you stop taking sulfasalazine.
Elderly people may be more sensitive to the side effects of sulfasalazine. The medicine should be used with caution to people 65 years of age or older.
Sulfasalazine should not be used by children under 2 years of age. Safety and efficacy in this age group are not confirmed.
This medicine can cause very bad skin conditions, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:
- Red, swollen, bubbly or flaky skin
- Red or irritated eyes
- Ulcers in the mouth, throat, eyes, or nose
Sulfasalazine can cause your skin or urine to turn yellowish orange. This is a harmless effect.
If you have diabetes, sulfasalazine can affect your blood sugar. Regularly check its level and talk with your doctor before changing the doses of your diabetes medications.
Continue taking sulfasalazine, even if you feel good. Do not stop taking medicine until you talk to your doctor.
Pregnancy and Sulfasalazine
Sulfasalazine is unlikely to harm an unborn baby.
However, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or may become pregnant before taking this medication.
The drug can be found in breast milk. You should not breast-feed while taking sulfasalazine without first talking to your doctor.
Sulfasalazine: side effects
Tell your doctor if any of the following side effects become serious or persistent:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach upset
Serious side effects
Immediately notify your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed in the “Warnings” section, or any of the following serious side effects:
- Skin rash, itching or urticaria
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- Pale or yellow skin
- Bluish discoloration of the skin or nails
- Difficulty swallowing
- Extreme fatigue
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Unusual weakness
- Severe nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Pale stools
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
- Hearing Loss
- Decreased urination or dark urine
- Mood Changes
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers
- Severe dizziness or drowsiness
- Severe pain in the stomach
- Problems with walking
Tell your doctor about all the drugs that you are taking before taking sulfasalazine, especially:
- Anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin)
- Folic acid
- Hyprex (methenamine)
- Lanoxin (digoxin)
Sulfasalazine and other interactions
Sulfasalazine can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun and wear protective clothing, use sunscreen on the street.
The medicine can also cause drowsiness or dizziness. Be careful when driving or performing any task that requires vigilance.
Dosage of sulfasalazine
Sulfasalazine is supplied as a conventional sustained-release tablet.
Conventional tablets are taken four times a day. Doses should be evenly distributed throughout the day.
Slow release tablets may be taken less often during the day. Your doctor will tell you how often to take them.
Take this medicine after a meal or a snack. Then drink a full glass of water (8 ounces).
Swallow the tablets whole. Do not chew them.
Follow the instructions of your doctor carefully when taking sulfasalazine. Do not take more or less drugs than prescribed.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the day, taking sulfasalazine.
Overdosage with sulfasalazine
Symptoms of an overdose of sulfasalazine may include:
- Severe abdominal / abdominal pain
- Extreme drowsiness
- Constant vomiting
If you suspect an overdose, immediately contact a poison control center or an emergency room. You can contact the Toxicology Center at 800-222-1222.
The missed dose of sulfasalazine
If you miss dozusulfasalazine, take it as soon as you remember.
However, skip it if it’s time for the next scheduled dose.
Do not take additional medication to make up for the missed dose.