What’s to know about balsalazide?


What is balsalazide?

Balsalazide is a treatment for ulcerative colitis.

Balsalazide is a prescription drug available as a capsule and film-coated tablet. Both forms are taken by mouth.

These capsules are available under the brand-name drug Colazal. They are also available as a generic drug. In tablet form, these pills are available under the brand-name drug Giazo and as a generic drug. Giazo tablets are only approved for use in males older than 18 years.

Balsalazide belongs to a class of drugs called aminosalicylates.


It is used to treat active, mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and sores in the colon, or large intestine.

With ulcerative colitis the body’s immune system becomes overactive. This causes inflammation and sores in the colon. Balsalazide can help reduce symptoms by reducing inflammation.

Balsalazide appears to decrease these symptoms by stopping production of such compounds in the colon.

Side effects

Common side effects of taking balsalazide capsules include:

  • a headache
  • pain in the abdomen or upper abdomen
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • respiratory infection
  • joint and muscle pain
  • a runny nose
  • fever
  • bloody diarrhea and rectal bleeding
  • stomach cramps

In tablet form, these can cause anemia, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and throat pain.

Balsalazide can also trigger a flare-up of ulcerative colitis at the beginning of treatment. Contact a doctor if these symptoms arise.

The medication can also cause salicylate toxicity, which can be extremely serious if not quickly addressed. The signs of this include:

  • vomiting blood
  • rapid or deep breathing
  • ringing in the ears
  • temporary deafness
  • seizures
  • lack of energy
  • confusion
  • shortness of breath


Balsalazide should be used cautiously or avoided with some other medications. It might increase the side effects of certain drugs, such as:

  • mercaptopurine
  • tenofovir
  • thioguanine
  • warfarin

Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.

Balsalazide may not be safe for people with the following conditions:

  • kidney or liver disease
  • pyloric stenosis

Women who are pregnant and breast-feeding should also notify their doctor if balsalazide is required. It is likely that older adults will receive regular blood cell counts during this treatment.

Balsalazide tablets are not approved for children under the age of 18 years. In capsule form, it is approved for children between the ages of 5 and 17 years to take the drug up to a maximum of 8 weeks.


The typical dose of balsalazide is three 750-milligram (mg) pills taken three times a day for between 8 and 12 weeks. Never take this medication for longer than 12 weeks.

Children aged between 5 and 17 years can take between one and three pills with every dose, although the course should not extend beyond 8 weeks. Doctors may start older adults on a lower dose, as kidney function is often compromised with age.

People on low-sodium diets may wish to speak to their doctor before taking balsalazide. The capsules and pills have a high sodium content and could affect intake.

Different brands may offer pills of different sizes and have different recommended doses. Giazo, for example, is a 1.1 gram (g) dose taken twice daily with or without food.

Always check the packaging for instructions.

Talk to your doctor before suddenly stopping this medication. Stopping the medication might worsen your condition and symptoms.

Extra information

Here are several extra considerations to bear in mind when transporting, acquiring, or storing acitretin:

  • Balsalazide can be taken with or without food.
  • Do not crush or chew.
  • Do not cut the tablet.
  • Store balsalazide at room temperature away from moisture.
  • When traveling, always have this medication with you. Do not store it in checked luggage when flying, and keep the prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Do not store balsalazide in the glove compartment of a car in extreme temperatures.

For those who have trouble swallowing, balsalazide capsules may be opened, sprinkled on applesauce, and then swallowed immediately.

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