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.

Prescription Medications

Aminosalicylate Medications (5-ASA)

  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
  • Mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa)
  • Balsalazide (Colazal)
  • Olsalazine (Dipentum)
  • Rectal administration forms (Rowasa enema, Canasa suppository)

Corticosteroids

  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Budesonide (Entocort EC)

Immune Modifiers

  • Azathioprine (Imuran)
  • 6-mercaptopurine (Purinethol)
  • Methotrexate (Folex)

Antibiotic Medications

  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Ampicillin (Amoxil)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Biologic Therapy

  • Infliximab (Remicade)

Antidiarrheal Medications

  • Diphenoxylate-atropine (Lomotil)
  • Loperamide (Imodium)
  • Codeine

Aminosalicylate Medications

Common names include:

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 vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Skin rash

Corticosteroids

Common names include:

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:

Immune Modifiers

Common names include:

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 suppression
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Antibiotic Medications

Common names include:

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 stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Bacterial colitis

Biologic Therapy

Common name: infliximab (Remicade)

Infliximab has been approved to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that does not respond to other treatments. It also may be used to treat open, draining fistulas. Infliximab is a genetically engineered antibody that binds specifically to tumor necrosis factor and blocks its activity in the body. Infliximab is infused into a vein at prescribed intervals.

Possible side effects include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Headache

Antidiarrheal Medications

Common names include:

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:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medication 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 medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if:

  • You develop side effects from your medications
  • Your medications do not bring relief of symptoms
  • You develop:
    • Fever
    • Bleeding
    • Worsening abdominal pain or diarrhea