If you’ve just been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, then it is likely that you will have heard the term aminosalicylates or ASAs from your doctor. Aminosalicylates are the most common choice for first line ulcerative colitis treatment, which means you are likely to be prescribed them after you are first diagnosed with IBD. ASAs are most often prescribed for ulcerative colitis, but they can sometimes help with Crohn’s disease too.
When Are ASAs Prescribed?
ASAs are usually prescribed for mild to moderate cases of ulcerative colitis. The ASA medication releases a substance called 5-aminosalicyclic acid (5-ASA) that can help to reduce inflammation in the gut lining. It works well for many patients with ulcerative colitis and the risk of side effects is low, which makes it a good choice for a first treatment. However, potential side effects can include nausea, abdominal pain, headaches and rashes.
You may be prescribed ASAs in order to relieve symptoms during a flare up or as a longer term treatment to reduce the risk of your symptoms returning. If the medication works well for you and there aren’t any side effects, you could be taking ASAs for many years. Some people will keep taking them for the rest of their lives to prevent flare ups.
Taking Your Medication
Different types of ASAs are available, including medication that is taken rectally as well as orally. Using a suppository or enema can ensure that a high dose is delivered right where it is needed, without spreading the medication around the whole body. However, sometimes it is possible to control your symptoms with an oral tablet. In some cases, you may need to take both forms of ASAs.
Every patient is different, so your ulcerative colitis treatment will be tailored to your needs. If the ASAs aren’t effective or you experience side effects, your doctor may recommend trying a different medication or a surgical ulcerative colitis treatment instead.