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What is ursodiol? What are the uses for ursodiol?
Ursodiol is a naturally-occurring bile acid that is made by the liver in humans and is secreted in small quantities into bile. It is used to dissolve and prevent cholesterol gallstones and to treat primary biliary cirrhosis, a disease of the liver.
Ursodiol blocks the enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol and thereby decreases production of cholesterol by the liver and the amount of cholesterol in bile. It also reduces the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine. By decreasing the concentration of cholesterol in bile, ursodiol prevents the formation and promotes the dissolution of cholesterol-containing gallstones. The mechanism by which it acts in primary biliary cirrhosis is not clear. The FDA approved ursodiol in December 1987.
What brand names are available for ursodiol?
Actigall, Urso Forte, Urso 250
Do I need a prescription for ursodiol?
What are the side effects of ursodiol?
The most common side effects are:
Serious allergic reactions and reduced concentration of white blood cells also have occurred.
What is the dosage for ursodiol?
The recommended dose for dissolving gallstones in adults is 8-10 mg/kg/day split into two or three doses (every 8 or 12 hours). Each dose should not exceed 300 mg. The maintenance dose is 250 mg at bedtime for six months.
For treating primary biliary cirrhosis, the recommended dose is 13-15 mg/kg/day split into 2 to 4 doses. Ursodiol should be taken with meals.
Which drugs or supplements interact with ursodiol?
Aluminum containing antacids, cholestyramine (Questran, Questran Light) and colestipol (Colestid) reduce the absorption of ursodiol and therefore reduce its action. Estrogens, oral contraceptives, clofibrate, and potentially other cholesterol reducing drugs may counteract the effects of ursodiol by increasing cholesterol secretion by the liver and the risk for gallstone formation.
Is ursodiol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
The are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
It is not known whether ursodiol is secreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about ursodiol?
What preparations of ursodiol are available?
Capsules: 300 mg. Tablets: 250 and 500 mg
How should I keep ursodiol stored?
Ursodiol should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
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Ursodiol (Actigall, Urso Forte, Urso 250) is a medication prescribed to dissolve cholesterol gallstones and treating primary biliary cirrhosis. Side effects, drug interactions, and dosage information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. There can be just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or any combination. The majority of gallstones do not cause signs or symptoms; however, when they do occur the primary sign is biliary colic. Symptoms of biliary colic are constant pain for 15 minutes to 4-5 hours, and it may vary in intensity; nausea, severe pain that does not worsen with movement; and pain beneath the sternum. Treatment of gallstones depends upon the patient and the clinical situation.
Fatty Liver (NASH)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NASH occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver most likely caused by obesity and diabetes. Symptoms of fatty liver disease are primarily the complications of cirrhosis of the liver; and may include mental changes, liver cancer, the accumulation of fluid in the body (ascites, edema), and gastrointestinal bleeding. Treatment for fatty liver includes avoiding certain foods and alcohol. Exercise, weight loss, bariatric surgery, and liver transplantation are treatments for fatty liver disease.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBS) is a liver disease in which bile building up in the organ damages bile ducts. Ultimately, this can cause liver failure. A number of drugs are available to treat this disease of unknown cause, but the only ultimate cure is a liver transplant.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)
Primary sclerosing cholangitis or PSC is a disease of the liver. The cause of PSC is not known. Symptoms may include itching, fatigue, jaundice, fever, and confusion. The only treatment for Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a liver transplant.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Treatment (PBC)
Primary biliary sclerosis (PBC) is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that involves the deterioration of the liver's small bile ducts. These ducts are crucial to transport bile to the small intestine, digesting fats and removing wastes. Symptoms of PBC are: Edema Itching Elevated cholesterol Malabsorption of fat Liver cancer Gallstones Urinary tract infections (UTIs) Hypothyroidism Treatments include ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA); colchicine (Colcrys); and immunosuppressive medications, such as corticosteroids; obeticholic acid (Ocaliva); and medications that treat PBC symptoms. For PBC that is associated with cirrhosis of the liver, liver transplantation may be indicated in extreme cases.
Gallbladder Pain (Gall Bladder Pain)
Gallbladder pain (often misspelled "gall bladder") is generally produced by of five problems, biliary colic, cholecystitis, gallstones, and pancreatitis. Causes of gallbladder pain include intermittent blockage of ducts by gallstones or gallstone inflammation and/or sludge that also may involve irritation or infection of surrounding tissues, or when a bile duct is completely blocked. Treatment of gallbladder depends on the cause, which may include surgery.
Is There a Cure for Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Liver cirrhosis results from disease- or chemical-induced injury to the liver over a sustained period. The injury kills liver cells, and your body attempts to rebuild the damage. In the process, the existing cells are inflamed and scar tissue results, compromising the structure of the liver and hampering its function.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.