Ursodiol : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Ursodiol is used to dissolve gallstones in people who do not want surgery or cannot have surgery to remove gallstones. Ursodiol is also used to prevent gallstones from forming in overweight people who are losing weight very quickly. Ursodiol is used to treat people with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC, an autoimmune liver disease). Ursodiol belongs to a class of medications called gallstone dissolving agents. It works by decreasing cholesterol production and dissolving cholesterol in bile to prevent stone formation and by decreasing the toxic levels of bile acids that accumulate in primary biliary cirrhosis.
How should this medicine be used?
Ursodiol comes in capsules and tablets to take by mouth. It is usually taken two or three times a day with or without food to treat gallstones and twice a day to prevent gallstones in people who are losing weight quickly. If you are taking the tablets to treat primary biliary cirrhosis, they are usually taken 2 or 4 times a day with food. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ursodiol exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
If you need to break the tablet for your specific dose, place the tablet on a flat surface with the section marked at the top. Hold the tablet with your thumbs close to the marked part and apply gentle pressure to break the tablet into two parts. Take the half tablet as directed by your doctor with food and store the other half of the tablet in the open blister pack. Use the half tablet stored within 7 days. If you have any questions, your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to break the tablets and how you should take them.
This medication must be taken for months for it to take effect. If you are taking ursodiol capsules to dissolve gallstones, you may need to take ursodiol for up to 2 years. Your gallstones may not completely dissolve, and even if they do dissolve, you may have them again within 5 years of successful ursodiol treatment. Keep taking ursodiol even if you feel well. Do not stop taking ursodiol without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking Ursodiol,
• Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ursodiol, bile acids, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in ursodiol tablets and capsules. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
• Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: aluminum-containing antacids (Amphojel, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, others), medications that lower lipid or cholesterol levels, such as cholestyramine (Prevalite) and colestipol (Colestid), and estrogen-containing medications (including birth control pills).
• Tell your doctor if you have bile duct obstruction. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take ursodiol. Your doctor will also probably tell you not to take ursodiol if you have a type of gallstone that does not dissolve or if surgery is a better option for your condition.
• Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had bleeding from varicose veins (bleeding from the esophagus or stomach) or liver disease.
• Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking ursodiol, call your doctor.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Ursodiol may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, or other signs of infection
- hair loss
- muscle pain
- back pain
- joint swelling, pain, or stiffness
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- frequent urination or pain when you urinate
Ursodiol may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit an online report to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in its container, tightly closed and out of the reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medications out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those for taking pills weekly and those used for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and children. young children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately put the medicine in a safe place, one that is above and out of your sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to get rid of your medication is through a medication take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department for information on return programs in your community. Check out the FDA’s Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the Poison Control Helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, call 911 immediately.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order blood tests to check your liver function every few months while taking ursodiol. You will also need to have an ultrasound scan (a type of image to look at the organs and structures inside the body) to see how your gallstones respond to ursodiol.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important to keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should carry this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to take with you in emergencies.
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Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.