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Cholestyramine - Oral

Pronunciation: KOE-le-STYE-ra-meen

Common Brand Name(s): Questran

Important: How To Use This Information

This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

Uses

Cholestyramine is used along with a proper diet to lower cholesterol in the blood. Lowering cholesterol helps decrease the risk for strokes and heart attacks.

In addition to a proper diet (such as a low-cholesterol/low-fat diet), other lifestyle changes that may help this medication work better include exercising, losing weight if overweight, and stopping smoking. Consult your doctor for more details.

Cholestyramine may also be used to treat itching in people with too much bile acid caused by a certain type of liver/bile duct disease (partial biliary obstruction).

This medication is known as a bile acid-binding resin. It works by removing bile acid from the body. In people with high cholesterol, this causes the liver to make more bile acid by using cholesterol in the blood. This helps to lower the cholesterol levels.

How To Use

Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 1 to 2 times a day. This medication comes as a powder with doses measured by the scoopful (using the provided scoop) or in individual dose packets. Do not take your dose in the dry powder form. Mix the medication in at least 2 to 6 ounces (60 to 180 milliliters) of liquid (such as water, milk, fruit juice), stir completely, and drink right away. Rinse your glass with more liquid and drink the rinse liquid to be sure that you have taken the entire dose. You may also mix this medication with watery soups, applesauce, or a pulpy fruit which has a lot of juice (such as crushed pineapple, peaches).

Do not hold the mixture in your mouth for long since doing so can damage your teeth. Practice good dental habits (such as brushing and flossing your teeth regularly).

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. It may take several weeks before you get the full benefit of this drug.

Cholestyramine may decrease your absorption of other medications. Take your other medications as directed by your doctor, usually at least 1 hour before or 4 to 6 hours after cholestyramine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information or if you have any questions.

Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. Keep taking this medication even if you feel well. Most people with high cholesterol do not feel sick.

Side Effects

Constipation, stomach/abdominal pain, gas, nausea, and vomiting may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.

Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • severe stomach/abdominal pain
  • unusual bleeding/bruising
  • rapid breathing
  • confusion

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • severe dizziness
  • trouble breathing

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

Before taking cholestyramine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:

  • constipation
  • hemorrhoids
  • kidney disease

Some products may contain sugar or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/avoid these substances in your diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.

Because this drug can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients (such as folic acid, fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E, K), your doctor may direct you to take a multivitamin supplement. Consult your doctor for more information.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially constipation.

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may affect the absorption of certain nutrients. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

This medication is unlikely to pass into breast milk. However, it may affect the absorption of certain nutrients. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Drug Interactions

See also How to Use section.

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include:

  • "blood thinners" (such as warfarin)
  • mycophenolate
  • raloxifene

Overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe stomach/abdominal pain.

Notes

Do not share this medication with others.

Lab and/or medical tests (such as blood cholesterol/triglyceride levels, vitamin levels) should be done while you are taking this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.

If you have questions about missing a dose or you don't have more medication, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. The color of the medication may sometimes vary. This is normal and will not affect how the drug works. If you have any questions about storage, ask your pharmacist. Do not store the medication in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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