sulfasalazine side effects

jdm Member Posts: 17
edited 27. Nov 2014, 18:58 in Living with Arthritis archive

Ive been taking sulfa for 7 weeks now and have been rather suffering with fatigue, joint pain, nausea, dizziness and diarrhea, but the symptoms come and go so not totally sure they are drug related. Has anyone else experienced this and if so did the symptoms go? I previously took sulfa 15 years ago for seroneg arthritis and remember some side effects but not when they stopped. It now looks like I have ankylosing spondilitis as well and am really struggling with work and two young kids esp as im aware it might not work on AS

Any advice appreciated as currently considering stopping the sulfa as feel so much worse then I was 7 weeks ago!


  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I've been taking sulph for around twelve years now, in my early days I bruised very easily and still do. I still have the fatigue and joint pain - that's part-and-parcel of arthritis but not nausea, the runs or headaches. What dose are you up to now? DD
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,280
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry I cant offer any advice but I see that DD has, I just hope you don't have to give up on the sulf especially if it is working for you
  • jdm
    jdm Member Posts: 17
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00

    Im taking four tablets a day, not sure what the dosage is. I started feeling rough when I was on two tablets a day and havent improved, alas they are not showing a signs of working yet :(
  • phoenixoxo
    phoenixoxo Member Posts: 625
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi jdm,

    Sorry you're having a tough time at the moment. I tried sulf over a decade ago and I got the runs very badly indeed. It didn't come and go, though – it didn't stop! I didn't get better until the sulf was completely out of my system.

    I'm not surprised you're struggling with work, with all those symptoms. Does your rheumatology department have a helpline?

    Hope you feel better soon,
  • jdm
    jdm Member Posts: 17
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks, I tried phoning my rheumatology dept and just got an answer machine message telling me to contact my gp if its urgent, I saw my gp a few weeks ago and she thought I was experiencing side effects but thought I should continue with them as she thinks other drugs will have worse side effects! Im not seeing my consultant until next year either!
  • theresak
    theresak Member Posts: 1,998
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I was on sulfa for some time, but never had the side effects you describe, thankfully. It had no effect on my RA, so it was stopped.

    I'm surprised your GP made a remark like that. All the drugs do come with a raft of possible side effects, but that's exactly what they are, possible. If you have side effects from one drug, it doesn't necessarily follow that you'll have them with any/every one you try.

    It might be worth trying your helpline again.
    Tezz x
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,420
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I know, from reading on here, that some rheumatology helplines are only manned part-time. I suggest you ring again and leave a message. If you know you're not likely to be in when they ring back explain the problem in detail and ask them to leave a message on your answerphone.
  • Tia1723
    Tia1723 Bots Posts: 43
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It takes 6 to 12 weeks before you start feeling better with sulfa. Many side effects are dose dependent and can be alleviated by gradually tempering the doses under supervision of your doctor.

    I hope you are taking sulfasalzine with food. For gastric related side effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea), I read enteric coated tablets are better, which means that they do not disintegrate until they reach the small intestine, so better tolerability. Discuss your option with your GP in next visit.

    Personally, I don’t see any point in continuing with sulfa with those side effects (after few more weeks) just because other drugs may cause more severe side effects. They may not :P !!! Effect of every drug varies individually and no one can guarantee about its effects and side effects unless one gives them a try.

    Love, Tia
  • Barbieg
    Barbieg Member Posts: 47
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I was put on sulfasalazine when I was diagnosed 10yrs ago and am lucky I had no significant side effects. It has worked so far for me, but I was given a booklet by my consultant at the time that showed my blood test results each time. My results showed my improvement, even though I didn't think they were working, and I have to say it was months before I felt better. I agree that you should ring your rheumy helpline and explain what is happening. If it's a recording, I'm sure someone will get back to you. Good luck. Barbieg.
  • bubbadog
    bubbadog Member Posts: 5,544
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I started taking Sulfasalazine 3 weeks ago but all the side effects your getting are similar to mine but I have extreme Anaemia as well at the moment so not sure if it's the medication or the Anaemia? I don't have the diarrhoea if anything I've gone the other way and I'm bunged up!! I was wondering would it be a good idea to ring the Arthritis care helpline? Would they know any of the side effects or not? Or maybe ring your G.P? Hope you settle down soon.
  • Kazziwaz
    Kazziwaz Member Posts: 30
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, I originally took sulfa but I suffered badly with side effects and had to come off it after 6 months. Took methetrexate instead which was fine, well as fine as it gets!
  • MrDJ
    MrDJ Member Posts: 246
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    i can advise much as no side effects here and ive been on them since 1985
    was told at the time it would be short term but i was on 6 x 500mg a day for 15 odd years. lowered while we tried lots of others nsaids and cox2's but went back up again when they didnt work.
    was only lowered to 2 x 500mg a day when i started mtx and infliximab ant tnf in 2002.
    still on 2 a day and still no side effects.
  • Mary2014
    Mary2014 Member Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry to hear your having bad side effects with sulfa, I was talking 6 tablets a day but I felt sick. I tried to get hold of Rheumy helpline but l had no luck. I then got my GP to give me a call back as I couldn't get an appointment, he told me to drop down to 5 tablet. And he informed rheumatologist via email. Also helpline aren't always man,so my rheumy said they get lots of messages with no names,dates of birth ,or hospital number, so they don't always know who to call back. Hope you manage to get some help , mary