Many people lack the information that stopping ursodiol can result in some undesirable side effects. This article will update you on those possible side effects. Ursodiol is a drug that belongs to a category of medications known as gallstone dissolution agents.
Also known as ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), this drug is usually used to treat a certain type of liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis.
It is also used to prevent the formation of gallstones in obese patients who are shedding weight at a fast rate.
This medicine is famed for its effectiveness in keeping the liver healthy, but there are some pretty shocking adverse events that could happen to you if you stop taking it.
This article talks about 10 stopping ursodiol side effects that your doctor ought to tell you before you begin treatment.
From the stopping ursodiol side effects you will learn about, you can make an informed decision on whether you still want to carry on with the drug.
In addition to the stopping ursodiol side effects, you will get answers to some common questions people ask about the drug.
How do you know if ursodiol is working?
After you start taking ursodiol to get rid of gallstones, you will need to take blood tests every few months.
This is to confirm if the gallstones are going away and your liver is functioning properly.
Should you feel any severe stomach or abdominal pain especially on your right side, be sure to let your doctor know.
How fast does ursodiol act?
Its manufacturers claim that it takes effect within the first two days of use.
However, its effects may not manifest immediately and therefore your doctor may need to do some laboratory tests to ensure its effectiveness.
How long can you take ursodiol?
If you are taking ursodiol to get rid of gallstones, you may have to take it for up to two years.
This will, of course, depend on how long your doctor thinks you need to be on it.
However, note that even after the standard two years your gallstones may still not go away completely.
And if they do, you are still at risk of developing them within five years after you have successfully undergone treatment with ursodiol.
There are undesirable stopping ursodiol side effects, but it also has some benefits that you may find useful.
It helps dissolve gallstones
Doctors prescribe ursodiol to dissolve relatively small gallstones that cannot be removed by a surgical procedure.
It only works for gallstones that are made up of cholesterol; any other kind will likely not get dissolved, including those formed from hardened deposits of calcium.
It helps prevent gallstone formation
People on quick weight-loss programs are at significant risk of developing gallstones especially if they are obese.
Taking ursodiol can help prevent the cholesterol shed during this process from forming hardened deposits on the liver.
It treats primary biliary cirrhosis
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic condition that destroys the bile ducts in the liver slowly.
It is an autoimmune disease that involves your immune system attacking healthy tissue and cells within the body.
This condition is more prevalent in women than men, and it could be triggered by a variety of factors. Such factors can be environmental, genetic or both.
Doctors usually prescribe ursodiol to help manage this condition under specified dosages depending on the severity of the disease.
It helps manage primary sclerosing cholangitis
Aside from treating PBC, ursodiol can also help treat primary sclesoring cholangitis.
This is a condition that causes inflammation and scaring in the bile duct system.
Unlike PBC, it affects the medium and large bile ducts both within and outside the liver.
Stopping ursodiol side effects
Before you commit yourself to using this drug, here are some stopping ursodiol side effects that you probably didn’t know about.
It can prevent the gallstones from dissolving
If you are taking ursodiol to get rid of gallstones, then you should take care not to stop it too soon.
Stopping it sooner that advised can deter it from working well.
This means the gallstones may not dissolve at all and you’d have to start from scratch with the treatment.
It can slow down the dissolution of the gallstones
You may be lucky for the treatment to keep working even after you stop it, but there’s a catch to that – slower action.
The dissolution process may take way longer than it was supposed to.
This will probably interfere with your entire dosage and you may have to start afresh.
Your skin can get itchy
A study done on patients taking ursodiol for primary sclerosing cholangitis revealed that stopping this drug can cause itchy skin.
If you suffer from conditions that make the skin dry like eczema, you’re likely to experience this side effect.
It can change the chemical composition of your liver
Stopping ursodiol can interfere with the hormones in your liver.
Some of the hormones that withdrawal may affect are alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase.
You may feel more tired than usual
Another one of stopping ursodiol side effects is that it may cause fatigue.
You may find yourself feeling more tired than usual without any proper reason.
It can cause changes in bile composition
A study done in 2014 revealed that withdraw of ursodiol can cause some changes in the chemical make-up of bile.
For instance, it can reduce the level of lithocholic acid which plays the role of making fats soluble for absorption.
Ultimately, this can affect fat metabolism in your body.
It can worsen Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a gut condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
A few of its common symptoms are abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue and persistent diarrhoea.
If you suffer from this condition and you suddenly stop ursodiol medication, you run the risk of flaring up the IBD.
Your stool may get fatty
As mentioned earlier, withdrawal can cause a reduction in the bile component that is responsible for fat absorption.
When fats are not properly absorbed in your body, they pass from your small intestine to the colon.
In the colon, they cause your stool to be fatty and runny, and sometimes smelly.
It may cause jaundice
If you’ve been wondering why your eyes are getting yellower since you stopped taking ursodiol, you may have your answer here.
This is one of the less-common stopping ursodiol side effects that you may experience.
It may impair the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
Malabsorption of fat in the body can impair the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well.
The particular vitamins that would be affected are vitamins A, D, E and K.
These stopping ursodiol side effects might scare you into backing out of treatment before you even begin, but they shouldn’t.
Your doctor will help you manage these side effects with the least possible consequences.
Do not, under any circumstances, stop taking this medication unless your doctor gives you the green light to do so.