IBD Medication Guide

A

Abscess:

A collection of pus (dead white blood cells) that has accumulated in a cavity formed by the tissue because of an infectious process (usually caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites).

Adherence:

Taking medication as prescribed

Aminosalicylates:

These include aspirin-like compounds that contain 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), such as sulfasalazine, balsalazide, mesalamine, and olsalazine. These drugs, which can be given either orally or rectally, do not suppress the immune system but decrease inflammation at the inner wall of the intestine itself, and help heal both in the short- and long-term. They are effective in treating mild-to-moderate episodes of IBD. They also are useful in preventing relapses (return of symptoms)

Antibiotics:

Metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, and other antibiotics may be used when infections such as an abscess occur. They treat Crohn’s, colitis, and perianal Crohn’s disease. They are also used to treat pouchitis, which is an inflammation of the ileal pouch, and for postoperative prevention of recurrent Crohn’s disease.

Antibody:

An immunoglobulin (a specialized protein) produced by certain cells of the immune system in response to foreign substances (antigens) within the body.

Anus:

Opening at the end of the rectum that allows solid waste to be eliminated

B

Biologic therapies:

These therapies are bio-engineered drugs that target very specific molecules involved in the inflammatory process. This class of therapy includes adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, golimumab, infliximab, and natalizumab. These are not drugs but proteins (antibodies) that target the action of certain other proteins that cause inflammation. These medications are indicated for people with moderately to severely active disease who haven’t responded well to conventional therapy. They also are effective for reducing fistulas. (Fistulas, which may occur with Crohn’s disease, are small tunnels connecting the intestine to another area of the body that are usually not connected). Biologics may be an effective strategy for reducing steroid use, as well as for maintaining remission.

Bowel:

Another name for the intestine. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.

C

Chronic:

Long lasting or long term.

Colitis:

Inflammation of the large intestine (the colon).

Colon:

The large intestine.

Corticosteroids:

These medications, which include prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and budesonide, affect the body’s ability to begin and maintain an inflammatory process. In addition, they work to keep the immune system in check. Prednisone and prednisolone are used for people with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Budesonide is used for people with mild-to-moderate ileal Crohn’s disease, and right-sided colon Crohn’s disease. They can be administered orally, rectally, or intravenously. Effective for short-term control of acute episodes (flares), they are not recommended for long-term or maintenance use because of their side effects. If you cannot discontinue steroids without suffering a relapse of symptoms, your doctor may add some other medications to help manage your disease. It is important not to suddenly stop taking this medication.

Crohn’s disease:

A chronic inflammatory disease that primarily involves the small and large intestine, but that can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. It is named for Burrill Crohn, the American gastroenterologist who first described the disease in 1932.

D

Diarrhea:

Passage of excessively frequent or excessively liquid stools

E

Extraintestinal complications:

Complications that occur outside of the intestine, such as arthritis or skin rashes. In some people, these may actually be the first signs of IBD, appearing even before the bowel symptoms. In others, they may occur right before a flare-up of the disease.

F

FDA:

The Food and Drug Administration.

Fistula:

A tunnel starting from the intestine to another area of the body, such as another area of the intestine, bladder, vagina, or skin.

Flare or flare-up:

Presence of inflammation and symptoms.

G

Gastrointestinal:

Adjective referring collectively to the stomach and small and large intestines.

GI tract:

Short for gastrointestinal tract.

I

Immune system:

The body’s natural defense system that fights against disease.

Immunomodulators:

These include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP), methotrexate, and cyclosporine. This class of medications modifies the body’s immune system so that it cannot cause ongoing inflammation. Usually given orally (methotrexate is injectable), immunomodulators are typically used in people for whom aminosalicylates and corticosteroids haven’t been effective, or have been only partially effective. They may be useful in reducing or eliminating reliance on corticosteroids. They also may be effective in maintaining remission in people who haven’t responded to other medications given for this purpose. Immunomodulators may take up to three months to begin working.

Immunosuppressive:

The suppression of the immune system; an agent that reduces the function of the immune system.

Inflammation:

A response to tissue injury that causes redness, swelling, and pain.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD):

A term used to refer to a group of disorders—including Crohn’s disease (inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract) and ulcerative colitis (inflammation in the colon).

Intestine:

The long, tubelike organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion. It consists of the small and large intestines.

L

Large intestine:

Also known as the colon. Its primary function is to absorb water and get rid of solid waste.

N

NSAIDs:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen.

O

Off-label:

Use of an FDA-approved drug for an indication other than that for which the drug was approved originally.

Oral:

By mouth.

P

Perianal:

Located around the anus, the opening of the rectum, to the outside of the body.

Peripheral neuropathy:

Nerve damage in the hands or feet that can result in weakness, numbness, or pain.

Pouchitis:

Inflammation of the lining of the internal pouch (formed from the small intestine)

R

Rectal:

Having to do with the rectum.

Rectum:

Lowest portion of the colon.

Remission:

Periods in which symptoms disappear or decrease and good health returns.

S

Small intestine:

Connects to the stomach and large intestine; absorbs nutrients.

Subcutaneous:

Injected under the skin.

T

Teratogen:

An agent or substance that may cause defects in the developing embryo.

Teratogenic:

Capable of causing birth defects.

Toxicity:

The degree to which a substance is harmful.

U

Ulcer:

A sore on the skin or in the lining of the GI tract.

Ulceration:

The process or fact of being eroded away, as by an ulcer.

Ulcerative colitis:

A relatively common disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine (the colon).

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