Aminosalicylates are a class of drug used primarily to treat inflammations of the gut such as inflammatory bowel disease. Scientists haven't fully understood how they work yet, but it's believed that they function by changing the way that cells lining the gut release certain cells, including cytokines. The chemicals the cells release can help make the gut inflamed, and thus can cause the symptoms of some inflammatory bowel diseases.
Although all aminosalicylates have the same active ingredient (5-aminosalicylic acid), different chemicals are often used in conjunction with it as a part of different medications. These are administered as tablets or liquid to be taken by mouth, liquid or foam enemas, or suppositories to be inserted in the rectum. The main amino salicylates include:
These medications are used to treat inflammations of the gut, primarily ulcerative colitis. Most medications are intended either to keep ulcerative colitis in remission (prevent flare-ups) in patients who have it or to treat the flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. Some scientific evidence has also shown that aminosalicylates taken on a long-term basis could reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer in patients with ulcerative colitis. They are also occasionally used to treat flare-ups of Crohn's disease, but most doctors believe that other treatments are more effective for that purpose. Aminosalicylates are also used to treat certain types of arthritis from time to time.
Most people taking aminosalicylates experience no side effects. Rarely patients will experience a hypersensitivity reaction, meaning that they feel itchy and potentially experience peeling and sensitivity to sunlight. Aminosalicylates can also decrease sperm counts in people with penises, but this can be completely reversed within several months of ceasing treatment. The most serious, and perhaps the most rare, side effect possible is an effect on the blood-making cells. If you are taking aminosalicylates and experience a sore throat, mouth ulcers, unexplained bruising or bleeding, fever, or rash you should cease taking the medicine and contact your doctor immediately.
There isn't an extensive list of what other drugs and lifestyle choices to avoid while taking these medications, but you should consult with your doctor about possible negative reactions. Some amino salicylates may stain tears orange, which can affect some soft contact lenses.
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