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    Information about Sulfasalazine

    Sulfasalazine uses

    Sulfasalazine is used in the treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis.

    How sulfasalazine works

    Sulfasalazine is a Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatoid Drug (DMARD). It works by suppressing the overactivity of the immune system in autoimmune diseases and blocks the chemical messengers that cause inflammation (swelling). It has an additional anti-bacterial property which helps prevent bacterial growth.

    Common side effects of sulfasalazine

    Nausea, Headache, Loss of appetite, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Weight loss, Gastrointestinal discomfort, Oligospermia (low sperm count)
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Betina Chandolia
    MDS, BDS
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Lalit Kanodia
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    16 Oct 2019 | 01:31 PM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

    Available Medicine for Sulfasalazine

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    Expert advice for Sulfasalazine

    • You have been prescribed Sulfasalazine to control the symptoms and slow down the progression of inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Take it with food to avoid an upset stomach.
    • It may take 6-8 weeks for Sulfasalazine to work. Keep taking it as prescribed.
    • Drink plenty of fluids while taking Sulfasalazine in order to avoid kidney problems such as kidney stones.
    • It may cause a deficiency of folic acid. Take the supplements as suggested by the doctor.
    • Do not take Sulfasalazine if you are allergic to sulfa drugs or aspirin.
    • It may discolour your skin, urine, saliva and tears an orange/yellow colour. This is normal and not harmful.
    • Regular blood tests to monitor your liver function, kidney function, and the levels of your blood components are required while taking this medicine.
    • Do not stop taking the medication suddenly without talking to your doctor.

    Frequently asked questions for Sulfasalazine


    Q. Is Sulfasalazine a steroid or a painkiller?

    Sulfasalazine is neither a steroid nor a painkiller. It is an anti-inflammatory medicine. It is used to treat and manage ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease in which the intestines become inflamed (swelling of intestines). It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (painful joint disease).

    Q. What is Sulfasalazine and what is it used for?

    Sulfasalazine belongs to a group of medicines called aminosalicylates. It is an anti-inflammatory disease and is used to treat bowel inflammation, diarrhea (stool frequency), rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, it helps prevent damage to the joints and works slowly to reduce swelling and stiffness in your joints.

    Q. I have been prescribed Sulfasalazine for rheumatoid arthritis. When can I expect the pain in joints to be better?

    Sulfasalazine does not work right away. It takes about 6 to 12 weeks to deliver the full effect.You may start feeling better in 4 weeks after starting Sulfasalazine, but it can vary from person to person and some of the patients may notice improvement after 3 months. Consumption of medicine should not be stopped without consulting your doctor.

    Q. For how long do I need to take Sulfasalazine?

    If you are able to tolerate Sulfasalazine which means the side effects do not bother you, then you have to continue Sulfasalazine till disease remains in remission.

    Q. Does the use of Sulfasalazine for the treatment of arthritis affect the kidney function?

    Though it is uncommon, Sulfasalazine may affect your kidney function. Therefore, it is important that your kidney function remains normal before you start taking Sulfasalazine. If during treatment with Sulfasalazine your kidney functions become abnormal, you should consult your doctor.

    Q. Do I need to get any blood tests done while on Sulfasalazine therapy?

    Your doctor will advise you blood tests to check your blood cell counts and your kidney function before starting your treatment and regularly during treatment. The tests should also be done to measure substances produced by your liver known as enzymes (liver function tests) and urine for protein and blood before you start treatment and at regular intervals.

    Q. Can Sulfasalazine affect my fertility?

    Decreased sperm count and infertility have been reported in some males. These may disappear once Sulfasalazine is discontinued.

    Q. Can I take azathioprine along with Sulfasalazine?

    You should avoid using Sulfasalazine with azathioprine since there are chances of decrease in blood cell count, which can be a serious side effect.

    Content on this page was last updated on 16 October, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)