Trying a New Medication: Will It Work for My UC Flare?
Last updated: October 2023
Another flare. Another drug. It's the cyclical nature of life with IBD.
After years of remission, I have returned to the land of medication. Mind you, I've returned kicking and screaming all the way.
When an ulcerative colitis flare hits
As my preference, I don't want to be on any medication. I don't like it. The thought of ingesting lab-created, chemical compounds just doesn’t sit well with me. But hey, I also ingest processed foods and drinks that aren't natural to my body either. So, I'll temporarily overlook reality for the sake of tamping down a flare.
When a UC flare fired up this past spring, I first started on rounds of prednisone. While on it, my UC symptoms quieted down. As soon as I finished a round, the pain, bloody diarrhea, and mucous began again.
I ended up with prednisone 3 different times. Once summer arrived, I thought a break from my day job as a public school teacher would help alleviate my angry colon.
My symptoms were relentless
But I was wrong. Even through the summer solitude, my symptoms never went away. So, I finally requested an appointment with my GI just a few weeks ago.
I resolved myself to the fact that I needed a new treatment plan before I stepped back into the classroom for this school year.
I needed a new UC treatment plan
With all the increases in the number and variety of IBD medications over the last few decades, I knew my doctor might suggest a new treatment. As per our usual appointments, I explained my symptoms, the length of time with these symptoms, and inquired as to new medications.
More importantly, I also discussed with him that I am only interested in treatments that present few side effects and are cost effective. (My salary doesn’t afford me the luxury of expensive medications.)
Because my body has responded well to mesalamine in the past, I agreed to go down this path again. First, my doctor prescribed me the suppository form to offer quick and faster results than an oral form.
It had been more than 5 years since I last used suppositories, but I knew it had worked then by directly targeting the sight of my inflammation.
Lialda for ulcerative colitis flare
Then, he also prescribed a name-brand oral version called Lialda, which I hadn't previously taken. As I have come to learn, Lialda contains the active ingredient mesalamine. Whether in suppository or oral form, these treatments are aminosalicylates (also called 5-aminosalicylic acid).
But what's the difference between the 2? The advantage to taking a suppository is all about timing. Direct contact offers quicker soothing. I compare it to the same effect as rubbing lotion directly onto dry skin. Applying a suppository creates the same effect.
Whereas, an oral prescription takes a little more time for the smothering of the flare flames. Lialda uses a protective outer coating to control the delayed-release action. Its water-absorbing compound allows the therapeutic effect to occur slowly along my diseased colon.
Agreeing to the Lialda route
As usual with medication, I am always skeptical. Are the side effects worth it? Do I want to put the chemical compounds into my body? Do I want to be dependent upon a medicinal path? These are the questions that roam around my head when it comes to my ulcerative colitis.
For this particular flare, I agreed to try Lialda.
First, I discovered a problem. My insurance requires that I only receive the name-brand version of Lialda. They wouldn't approve of a generic brand.
Generic vs. name brand
That little caveat required some investigative work for me living in a rural area. Which pharmacy carried the name-brand form? My local CVS didn't carry it. They are my pharmacy of choice, but now I would have to look elsewhere. So, I began calling.
"Hello, do you carry Lialda and not a generic version?" I asked this question many times as I contacted every local pharmacy. My gut began to grumble with each rejection I received. What if no one carried it? What then? I didn't have time to think about that possible reality.
My pharmacy search
When I had exhausted all pharmacies, I called my GI's office in desperation. Maybe the doctor would just have to prescribe me another treatment.
As it turned out, my GI's office had just opened its own pharmacy. I hadn't paid much attention to it at my appointment. My usual medicinal path consisted of filling prescriptions at CVS. But when I spoke to the nurse, she explained that their pharmacy had the name brand on site. Whew, that was one obstacle I hurdled.
How is my ulcerative colitis responding to Lialda?
So, how is my body responding to treatment? With a few tweaks to my diet, both the suppository and oral versions of mesalamine have cleared most of my flare symptoms. What remains? I still experience loose stools.
But it has been only 2 weeks that I've been on Lialda. Hopefully, in the next week or so, this medication will eradicate loose stools. Time will tell.
Flares are setbacks
Overall, though, my goal is to not be on any medicine. I know this flare is just a temporary setback. I trust that my body will right itself. More importantly, I need to get my mindset heading in a better direction.
When it comes to UC, I know that diet, exercise, and a good mental perspective are powerful, natural treatments for my body. It's a matter of me getting all 3 forms of therapy into better alignment. When I slip with my diet or when I become mentally negative, that's when UC serves up its own reminder that I’m out of calibration.
As I head outside to walk with my dog, I'll work on my mindset by focusing on all that I am grateful and appreciative of. Life is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Nature has a way of reminding me of this.
A stepping stone to flare recovery
In the end, I'm a firm believer that Lialda, for me, is just a stepping stone to a quick recovery. My heart tells me that I won't be taking it forever. The body is a powerful machine. For now, I'll just let the medicine do its job while I work on my diet, exercise, and mindset.
What about you? Have you tried Lialda? Did you notice any side effects? Please comment below and let me know if it worked for you.
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