How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Sulfasalazine belongs to the class of medications called anti-inflammatories. It is used to treat inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, proctitis or distal ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. It helps control symptoms by reducing chronic inflammation in the bowel. The enteric-coated tablets can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis when treatment with other medications has not helped. It may take 1 to 2 months before you see any results.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
How should I use this medication?
The dose of sulfasalazine varies widely according to the condition being treated and the needs of the person. The dose is usually started at a low dose and increased to the dose that is most effective. Side effects are more likely to occur with total daily doses of 4 g (4,000 mg) daily or more. Doses of sulfasalazine should be taken at regular and even intervals over the 24 hour daily period. If you are taking sulfasalazine for an intestinal inflammatory disease, the night-time dose interval should not be longer than eight hours. Doses for children are calculated on the basis of body weight.
The uncoated tablets should be taken with a meal if possible. The enteric-coated tablets must not be chewed or crushed; they should be swallowed whole.
While taking sulfasalazine, drink an adequate amount of fluids to minimize the risk of crystals in the urine and the forming of kidney stones.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones given here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important that this medication be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take sulfasalazine if you:
- are allergic to sulfasalazine or any ingredients of the medication
- are allergic to sulfonamides or salicylates (e.g., ASA or aspirin)
- have a liver condition called porphyria as this type of medication has been reported to bring on an attack
- have had acute asthmatic attacks, hives, rhinitis, or other allergic symptoms that are brought on by ASA or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
- have an intestinal or urinary blockage
- have severely decreased kidney function
Do not give this medication to children under 2 years of age.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between sulfasalazine and any of the following:
- chicken pox vaccine
- diabetes medications (e.g., chlorpropamide, glipizide, glyburide, insulin, metformin, nateglinide, rosiglitazone)
- folic acid
- low molecular weight heparins (e.g., dalteparin, enoxaparin, tinzaparin)
- medications that increase sensitivity to the sun
- nitric oxide
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs; e.g., diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen)
- other salicylates (e.g., ASA, salsalate)
- sodium nitrite