Balsalazide | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
Advertisement

Generic Name:

balsalazide, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Giazo
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for balsalazide

Oral tablet
1

Balsalazide is used to treat active, mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.

2

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

3

Balsalazide capsules are available as the brand-name drug Colazal. They’re also available as a generic drug.

4

Balsalazide tablets are available as the brand-name drug Giazo. They’re also available as a generic drug. Giazo tablets are only approved for use in male adults older than 18 years.

5

The more common side effects of the capsules can include headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, respiratory infection and flu-like symptoms, tiredness, or joint pain. The more common side effects of the tablets can include anemia (low red blood cells), diarrhea, urinary tract infection, or muscle, joint, or throat pain.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Kidney damage

Kidney damage has been reported in some people who have taken drugs similar to balsalazide. This medication may also cause kidney damage in some people.

Liver damage

Liver damage has been reported in rare cases in people who have taken this drug.

What is balsalazide?

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

Balsalazide capsules are available as the brand-name drug Colazal. They’re also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Balsalazide tablets are available as the brand-name drug Giazo. They’re also available as a generic drug. Giazo tablets are only approved for use in male adults older than 18 years.

Why it's used

Balsalazide is used to treat active, mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic disease that causes inflammation (painful swelling) and ulcerations (sores) in the colon. The colon is also called the large intestine.

How it works

Balsalazide belongs to a class of drugs called aminosalicylates. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Balsalazide belongs to a class of drugs called aminosalicylates. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

With ulcerative colitis, the body makes more compounds called arachidonic acid metabolites. These may cause the inflammation (painful swelling) and ulcerations (sores) that occur with ulcerative colitis. Balsalazide seems to decrease these symptoms by stopping the colon from making these compounds. 

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

balsalazide Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects for this drug vary slightly based on the drug form.

  • The more common side effects of balsalazide capsules can include:

    • headache
    • pain in the abdomen (stomach area) or upper abdomen
    • diarrhea
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • respiratory infection
    • joint pain
    • runny nose/sneezing
    • fever
    • swelling in the digestive tract
  • The more common side effects of balsalazide tablets can include:

    • anemia (low levels of red blood cells)
    • diarrhea
    • urinary tract infection
    • throat pain

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms for all drug forms can include the following:

  • Salicylate toxicity. Symptoms can include:

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

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Stomach cramping

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Balsalazide does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

balsalazide May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking.

To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Balsalazide warnings
kidney damage
People with kidney damage

Balsalazide can damage the kidneys in some people. If you have kidney damage or a history of kidney disease, talk to your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

pyloric stenosis
People with pyloric stenosis

This condition occurs in babies. With pyloric stenosis, the opening between the stomach and small intestine is narrowed and doesn’t allow food to pass. This can cause balsalazide to stay in the body for longer than usual. This may increase the risk of side effects such as stomach pain or nausea. If your baby has pyloric stenosis, talk to your doctor about whether taking balsalazide is safe for your baby.

liver damage
People with liver damage

Balsalazide can worsen your liver problems and may cause liver failure. If you have liver dysfunction or a history of liver disease, talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you. If you do take balsalazide, your doctor should monitor your liver function throughout your treatment.

ulcerative colitis
People with ulcerative colitis

When balsalazide is started, it can cause a flare-up of ulcerative colitis. Symptoms can include cramping, stomach pain, or bloody diarrhea. If you have this reaction, call your doctor.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Balsalazide is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has not shown a risk to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in humans to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Animal studies do not always predict the way humans would respond. Therefore, this drug should only be used in pregnancy if clearly needed.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if balsalazide passes into breast milk. It may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

If your doctor prescribes balsalazide, talk with them about any safety concerns for seniors. Your doctor should closely monitor your blood cell counts throughout your treatment with this drug.

for children
For children

For balsalazide capsules (Colazal):

  • The safety and efficacy of these capsules in children younger than 5 years has not been established.  They are not approved for use by children in this age group.
  • The safety and efficacy of these capsules in children ages 5–17 years for more than 8 weeks has not been established. They should not be used for more than 8 weeks by children in this age group without a doctor’s oversight.

For balsalazide tablets (Giazo):

  • The safety and efficacy of these tablets has not been established for children younger than 18 years.  They are not approved for use by children in this age group.
call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Balsalazide can cause a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • skin reactions 

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Don’t take balsalazide if you have any type of sensitivity or allergic reaction to a class of medications called salicylates (including aspirin).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take balsalazide (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Ulcerative colitis

Generic: balsalazide

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 750 mg
Form: Oral film-coated tablet
Strengths: 1.1 grams

Brand: Colazal

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 750 mg

Brand: Giazo

Form: Oral film-coated tablet
Strengths: 1.1 grams
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Brand: Colazal and generic
Form: Oral capsule

  • The typical dose is 750 mg taken 3 times per day (6.75 grams per day) for 8–12 weeks.
  • Some adults require treatment for up to 12 weeks. You should not take this medication for longer than 12 weeks. 
Adult dosage (males, ages 18 years and older)

Brand: Giazo
Form: Oral tablet

  • The usual dose is three 1.1-gram tablets taken 2 times per day (6.6 grams per day) for up to 8 weeks.
Child dosage (ages 5–17 years)

Brand: Colazal and generic
Form: Oral capsule

  • The usual dose is either:
    • Three 750-mg capsules taken 3 times per day (6.75 grams per day) for up to 8 weeks
    • OR

    • One 750-mg capsule taken 3 times per day (2.25 grams per day) for up to 8 weeks
Child dosage (ages 0–4 years)

Brand: Colazal and generic
Form: Oral capsule

  • The safety and efficacy of these capsules in children ages 5–17 years for more than 8 weeks has not been established. They should not be used for more than 8 weeks by children in this age group without a doctor’s oversight.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Brand: Giazo
Form: Oral tablet

  • The safety and efficacy of the tablets in children younger than 18 years has not been established. They are not approved for use by people in this age group.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

Patients on a low-sodium diet or sodium restriction: When balsalazide is taken at a standard dose, it can provide about 516 mg of sodium per day (for the capsules), or 756 mg of sodium per day (for the tablets). Talk with your doctor about whether this is safe for you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Balsalazide capsules can be taken for up to 8 weeks in children, and 8–12 weeks in adults. The tablets can be taken for up to 8 weeks, by adult males only.

Balsalazide comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your ulcerative colitis may get worse. Untreated ulcerative colitis can lead to other health problems such as anemia (low red blood cells). It can also lead to toxic megacolon, a condition that can be life-threatening.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include increased side effects, such as:

  • headache
  • stomach upset
  • pain in the abdomen (stomach area)

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You should have fewer symptoms of ulcerative colitis. These can include rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or pain.

Balsalazide is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking balsalazide

You should space out the doses evenly throughout the day

Try to take the capsules every 8 hours, and the tablets every 12 hours.

Don’t crush or cut the tablet

For the capsule, you can carefully open it and sprinkle the contents on applesauce or other soft food.

  • The entire drug/applesauce mixture must be swallowed right away. (The contents can be chewed if needed.)
  • Don’t store the drug/food mixture for later use.
  • The color of the powder inside the capsule can vary from yellow to orange.
  • Staining of the teeth or tongue can occur if you take balsalazide with this method.

Store this drug carefully

  • Keep balsalazide at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • If needed, for a short period of time you can store balsalazide at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Prescription is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor you for any worsening of your ulcerative colitis symptoms while you take balsalazide.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does balsalazide Cost?

Oral tablet

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for balsalazide

Walmart $93.37
Sams Club $93.37
Membership warehouse $137.03
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for balsalazide on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for balsalazide on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 29, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement