Monday, October 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 col-lou, Community Member, asks

Q: What does Asacol do & how long does it take

My medical history predisposed me to auto-immune illness, possibly Crohn's.  Have had all the "other things" (iritis, arthritis, osteoporosis etc) and just one bowel flare up 20 years ago.  A few months ago I started experiencing diarrhea so I thought I should get it checked.  I'm told it's UC.  At diagnosis - the diarrhea seemed to be getting better so the Doc said we wouldn't treat it.  2 weeks later it took a turn for the worse.  Called the doc who ordered up Asacol 2 pills twice a day.  It wasn't working after a week so he upped the dose to 3 times a day.  Still not working - I'm going an average of 15 times a day - totally liquid.  Will Asacol just stop the frequency or will it harden things up too?  And - am I expecting too much too soon? 

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Answers (3)
Elizabeth Roberts, Health Guide
2/12/09 3:51pm

Hello Col-lou,


Welcome to HealthCentral's IBD site.


With regards to your question about Asacol and how it works - it sounds like you need to discuss your continuing symptoms with your doctor again. Are you seeing a gastroenterologist who specializes in IBD/UC? If not, it would be to your benefit to find one that does.


I'm not a doctor, I'm a UC patient, so the information I can give you is NOT medical advice, nor should you increase any medication doses WITHOUT talking to your own doctor. My first serious flare-up was 10 years ago and I was having 15-30 diarrhea BMs per day, was losing weight, etc. A colonoscopy confirmed a UC diagnosis and I was given a prescription for Asacol, 3 tabs, 3x/day (so 9 per day). None of the 5-ASA drugs, the family of drugs Asacol belongs to, are fast-acting, meaning they aren't going to settle down a flare in a matter of hours or days. They are drugs meant to reduce the inflammation in your colon and it can take weeks or months to really have an effect. It took me nearly a year or more to get my symptoms remotely under control with Asacol, major diet changes (you might want to read some of my older Shareposts here about diet, etc.), and major lifestyle and employment changes. I now take 6 Asacol/day as a maintenance dose which helps in keeping my symptoms under control. You may need to talk to your doctor about increasing the dosage until this flare calms down.


Or, it may simply be that the Asacol isn't going to work for you. It works well for some of us and not at all for others. You might need to try another IBD medication like Colazal. Again, talk to your doctor about the treatment options and also look into your diet - what I eat makes a huge difference to how I feel and my symptom level.


Good luck,


Melissa, Community Member
12/17/09 11:26pm

Hi Elizabeth,


I am a UC patient also, and I am interested in some dietary changes. Have you found a good diet to follow? Are there some foods that you avoid at all costs? Are there other foods that help?





Kelly B, Community Member
1/24/13 5:39pm

Hi Elizabeth, I am wondering if you can tell me a little more about the employment changes you had to go through.  My husband has been dealing with UC and he is taking Asacol.  I am surfing around trying to find some kind of discount to relieve the blow of $720.00 a bottle for the stuff!!  He is really struggling right now with trying to find a job that isnt too demanding and someplace he isnt outside if he has to go!!  Right now he is a environmental driller and is ALWAYS outside.  Any experiences or ideas you might be able to share would be wonderful!!  Thanks so much.




Elizabeth Roberts, Health Guide
1/24/13 6:25pm

Hi Kelly,


I'm sorry to hear about your husband's situation.


Re: the cost of Asacol, I know, it's very expensive. You might read this information on the Procter & Gamble website and see if your husband would qualify for their patient assistance program.


I would also recommend he look into the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
I am not a doctor so I can't prescribe anything, but I will say that after struggling with Colitis for years and years my biggest break through in controlling its symptoms came through diet changes and strictly following the SCD. I am now down to 4 Asacol tabs per day, 1-2 formed and normal BM's/day, and am able to come-and-go from my home normally.


That said, after first being diagnosed and for the next 10 +years I was sick. I was a journalist and a public relations professional. Both high stress jobs with a lot of travel involved. Needless to say, I quit before I got fired. But, I also has skills that I could translate to the internet and working on my own schedule from home - namely writing, blogging, and I am now a natural foods chef and teach people with special diets how to cook for themselves.


This is a tough illness because 1. it's not easy to talk about; 2. some of the time we don't actually look sick; and 3. on those days when we are really sick our work-a-day world doesn't really easily allow it - we're seen as slackers or not pulling our weight.


I also don't know if your husband would be into this, but many IBDers find things like yoga and meditation very helpful as well. It helps to reduce stress in our mind but also in our body and our gut and can be helpful.


Those are my current suggestions. I hope one or more prove helpful. Do write again if you need more assistance.


Best to you both,


Kelly B, Community Member
1/29/13 10:52am

Thank you so much for your response:)  I really appreciate it!  I will let him read this and we will look up that website:)  This is a really tricky thing to deal with!  Many thanks to you:)


Have a great day!



VS, Community Member
3/28/12 12:12pm

I have also been diagnosed with UC and have had many flare ups lasting up to 15 weeks or longer.  Excessive weight loss, sore joints etc.  The Asacol was not controlling my symptoms anymore so he prescribed Entocort  which is for Crohn's.  It took 2 weeks for it to take effect but my symptoms seem to be under control.  I was taking 2 pills a day and when the specialist decreased to 1 per day the symptom increased so it's back to 2/day.


mom of UC patient, Community Member
8/23/12 8:38am

My son was prescribed Asacol and told by his UC specialist that it takes 8 to 12 weeks to take affect in the system.  He has been taking 3 caps/3 times a day.  He lost over 30 pounds in a month just after his diagnosis, he had pure watery stools for two months, then got a C-diff infection on top of it all.  His joints were severly swollen and he could barely walk.  His entire back was also painful.  The specialist told him that the joint swelling was all part of the Ulcerative Colitis....and that is why she combined the Asacol with other meds (large doses of prednisone, that after three months, he is still getting weaned off of).  Its worked!!!  The bowels are normal, the other meds are being tapered off, and he is in remission.  He will always need the Asacol to help maintain the status, follow a diet free of foods that typically cause problems (see various sites - lettuce, crunchy veggies, gas producing foods), and he will have to keep his stress levels down.  But the outlook is positive.  I strongly suggest that you keep in touch with your doctor/specialist on this....we asked a million questions in order to understand why things were done the way they were.  Keep in mind that your doctor knows YOU best...not some quacks advertising things (or even some well meaning patients trying to offer you advice...or their me).  Your doctor is the only person who knows your medical advice.  So, take what you see on the net and ask your doctor.  That's what we did...we found out that lots of things were garbage, but other things (people who went through it) was often things that we could count on!!!!  Remember UC will be something that you will deal with the rest of your life...its time to learn about YOUR needs and the way that you have to change your lifestyle in order to get into remission and stay that way!  Good luck....

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By col-lou, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/09/14, First Published: 02/11/09