The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this prescription for the treatment of the following conditions.
Ursodeoxycholic Acid used for dissolving gallstones that are mainly made up of cholesterol. This type of condition is called radiolucent gallstones.
Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small and pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine. Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone while others develop many gallstones at the same time. Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours. Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. If a gallstone lodges in a duct and causes a blockage, the resulting signs and symptoms may include:
- Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the centre of your abdomen just below your breastbone
- Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
- Back pain between your shoulder blades
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in your right shoulder
This medication may also be used to treat primary biliary cirrhosis. It is a chronic disease in which the bile ducts in your liver are slowly destroyed. Bile is a fluid made in your liver. It aids with digestion and helps your body get rid of toxins, cholesterol, and worn-out red blood cells. When the bile ducts are damaged, bile can back up in your liver and sometimes lead to irreversible scarring of liver tissue.
This type of condition is considered an autoimmune disease which means your body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy cells and tissue. Primary biliary cirrhosis usually develops slowly. Medication can slow liver damage especially if treatment begins early. More than half the people with primary biliary cirrhosis do not have any noticeable symptoms when diagnosed. The disease may be diagnosed when blood tests are done for other reasons. Symptoms eventually develop over the next five to 20 years. Those who do have symptoms at diagnosis typically have poorer outcomes. Common early symptoms include:
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of the spleen
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- muscle, bone, or joint pain
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Build-up of fluid in the abdomen due to liver failure
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Fatty deposits on the skin around the eyes, eyelids or in the creases of the palms, knees, soles, or elbows
- Darkening of the skin that’s not related to sun exposure
- High cholesterol
- Underactive thyroid
- Weak and brittle bones which can lead to fractures
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea which may include greasy stools
How does Ursodeoxycholic Acid work?
Ursodeoxycholic Acid is a chemical called a bile acid. It occurs naturally in bile and can be used to dissolve gallstones.
The liver produces bile which is then stored in the gall bladder. Bile is released by the gall bladder to aid the digestion of fats. It consists of cholesterol dissolved within bile salts. Gallstones occur in the gall bladder as a result of too much cholesterol, or too few bile salts within the bile. The imbalance causes excess cholesterol to separate of the bile and form stones.
This drug causes gallstones to dissolve by a mechanism that has. It is known to decrease the production of cholesterol by the liver and also to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. Both of these actions decrease the amount of cholesterol that passes into the bile. Also, since Ursodeoxycholic Acid is a bile acid itself, it increases the level of bile acids within the bile.
The combination of these two factors reverses the imbalance and stops the cholesterol separating of the bile. The gallstones then begin to dissolve. This is a useful alternative for people who cannot have or wish to avoid surgery.
How to use Ursodeoxycholic Acid?
Take this medication exactly as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the drug. Do not increase your dose or take this medicine more often without the approval of your doctor. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may be increased. Use this medication regularly for the best benefit. To help you remember, take it at the same time and in the same way every day.
Drink plenty of fluids and limit alcoholic beverages. Do not share this with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours. If you missed a dose, call your doctor for directions. Do not twice the dose to make up for the missed dose. Your doctor may give you a lower dose of this prescription and increase it gradually depending on the result of your condition.
What are the side effects of Ursodeoxycholic Acid?
- Stomach upset or pain
- Tired feeling
- Back pain
- Hair loss
- Body aches
Tell your doctor right away if you have these symptoms:
- Swelling of the ankles or feet
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Signs of infection (persistent sore throat or fever)
- Increased thirst or urination
Warnings and Precautions
- This should not be used in people with acute inflammation of the gall bladder, blockage of the bile duct, a gall bladder that no longer contracts and empties, or people with chronic liver disease.
- Certain medications should not be used during breastfeeding or pregnancy. However, other drugs may be safely used in breastfeeding or pregnancy providing the benefits to the mother. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy before using any medications.
- This should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Inform your doctor if you previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel experienced an allergic reaction, stop using the medicine and let your doctor know right away.
- This drug may cause blurred vision and drowsiness. If affected, do not drive or operate machinery.