Combating Colitis with Canasa: My Experience
Last updated: September 2022
"Flare" means "a sudden burst of bright flame" or "to burn with a sudden intensity."
But for those like me, "flare" describes in perfect form how it looks and feels when my ulcerative colitis rears its ugly, painful self. The innocent eating of a particular food can send sudden spasms of pain through my gut that result in sudden, intense diarrhea. When blood and mucus appear, I know then that my my body is signaling that it's time to turn to stronger methods.
The arrival of constant pain, bloody stool, and mucus, alerts me that I'm now in a full-blown flare.
Over the 30 years I've dealt with UC flares, I've found one medicine that seems to bring relief to my colon. Now, this medicine isn't the "fastest," but it doesn't make me feel crazed like prednisone does.
Canasa for ulcerative colitis flares
Canasa – or mesalamine – is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat ulcerative colitis, proctitis, and proctosigmoiditis. In suppository form, Canasa might also help prevent UC symptoms from recurring. Out of all the copious prescription drugs I've used, this treatment is one my body is best able to absorb and handle.
Now, I want on the record that my first choice for any health issue is always the natural therapeutic path. But when life throws out its slings and arrows, my body seems more accepting and accommodating to Canasa.
First, I've found going with the generic mesalamine version is the cheapest path for my wallet. So, when my gastroenterologist prescribes it, I ask him to write it so that I can order it through the mail for a larger amount at a cheaper price. I've used both Canasa and generic forms. Each works with the same positive results in my body. Since that’s the case, I opt for the cheaper version.
What is Canasa (mesalamine)?
So, what is it? From my own personal experience: Canasa (mesalamine) is a 1,000 mg suppository that is meant to be taken at night. This medication shouldn't be stored in hot, humid environments. It can be placed in the refrigerator. Honestly, I've always stored my supply in the cabinet beneath the bathroom sink, and it never melts. But if you’re not living in a climate-controlled environment, then you would need to find an alternate means to keep this medicine cool, such as a refrigerator.
For those with allergies, this treatment belongs to the 5-aminosalicylic-acid drug class. So, if you know that you are allergic to medicines that have salicylates, including aspirin, then this treatment isn't for you. Those with kidney problems, heart inflammations (pericarditis), liver problems, or other medical issues need to discuss with a doctor before trying Canasa. I'm no physician; therefore, I don’t know how other health conditions might affect this therapy. I'm just going by what I've read on the medication package! Always talk to your doctor.
The "fun" of a suppository
A few years ago, when my gastroenterologist first prescribed Canasa, I read through all the package directions first. The first detail is to take one dose at bedtime. Gotcha! That sounds easy.
On the label, it also recommends lying on your back with knees upwards to insert.
Well, I knew I wouldn't do that every night. In my head, I thought, "There's got to be a more convenient way to put in this medicine than getting in the floor." Plus, my bathroom isn’t all that spacious. In addition, with my introverted nature, I knew for certain I wouldn't apply this medicine sprawled out on the bedroom floor in front of my husband.
So, I found a different approach – call it the "lazy girl" approach if you want. But while sitting on the commode, I was able to reach around and insert the suppository in my bum. Then, the directions state to lie still for a few minutes to allow the suppository to melt. With my "lazy girl" approach, I just laid down in bed. Let me warn you, though. Make sure you wear underwear you don’t mind potentially staining. That can happen.
After administering the suppository
If possible, you should also avoid using the bathroom for 1-3 hours. This time allows the medicine to work. Sometimes, when first starting this treatment, the flare may not allow you to wait that long. There were occasions when I couldn’t "hold it" for almost 3 hours. Don't beat yourself up over it. Just realize that in time, this medicine should slow diarrhea and urges.
My personal Canasa tips
So, what were the negative aspects of this medicine? I started this treatment in an enema form years ago. I quickly discovered that enemas are no fun. They just aren't convenient. To me, the suppository form is easier to travel with and transport. You just have to remember not to leave it in hot environments.
Also, I didn't pay attention to one directive: drink plenty of water while taking this medicine. I found myself bloating quite a bit when I wasn't hydrated enough. As I got better, I also noticed more headaches. Because it is recommended to take for 3-6 weeks, I usually began weeing myself off Canasa if I had hit or surpassed 3 weeks.
Cooling the flames of ulcerative colitis
Overall, I don't have too many complaints about my time with Canasa. In short, my body handles it better than other treatments. Between it and taking doses of Imodium-AD, I find I'm able to reduce flares sooner. But everyone's body is different. If it doesn't work for your body, then talk to your doctor about another therapy.
Ultimately, I prefer natural therapies. But sometimes, life calls for stronger approaches. When that happens, I try to tamp down the flames of a flare with mesalamine. Feel free to add your comments and experiences with this treatment. Your Canasa encounter might help someone else. And isn't that why we're here – to help others? My gut thinks so.
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