Generic Name: cholestyramine (KOE-le-STYE-ra-meen)
Brand Name: Examples include Prevalite and Questran
Cholestyramine powder is used for:
Lowering blood cholesterol levels. It is used along with changes in diet. It is also used to relieve itching caused by partial biliary obstruction. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Cholestyramine powder is a bile acid sequestrant. It works by increasing the removal of bile acids from the body. As the body loses bile acids, it replaces them by converting cholesterol from the blood to bile acids. This causes the blood level of cholesterol to decrease.
Do NOT use cholestyramine powder if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in cholestyramine powder
- you have a complete blockage of your biliary tract, severe constipation (eg, impacted feces), or high blood chloride levels
- if you are taking leflunomide or mycophenolate
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using cholestyramine powder:
Some medical conditions may interact with cholestyramine powder. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you have heart disease (eg, heart blood vessel problems); constipation; hemorrhoids; stomach or bowel blockage; gallbladder problems; blood, bleeding, or clotting problems; high blood triglyceride levels; poor absorption from the intestinal tract or other intestinal problems; kidney problems; or phenylketonuria (PKU)
- if you have diabetes, underactive thyroid, or liver problems, or if you are addicted to alcohol
- if you are dehydrated or have low blood volume
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with cholestyramine powder. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), beta-blockers (eg, propranolol), deferasirox, digoxin, digitoxin, diuretics (eg, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide), estrogens, hormonal contraceptives (eg, birth control pills), leflunomide, mycophenolate, penicillins (eg, amoxicillin), phenobarbital, phenylbutazone, phosphate supplements, progestins (eg, medroxyprogesterone), tetracyclines (eg, doxycycline), or thyroid hormones (eg, levothyroxine) because their effectiveness may be decreased by cholestyramine powder
- Spironolactone because the risk of high blood chloride levels may be increased
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if cholestyramine powder may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use cholestyramine powder:
Use cholestyramine powder as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Take cholestyramine powder by mouth at mealtime as directed, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Cholestyramine powder may decrease the absorption of other medicines. Take other medicines at least 1 hour before or 4 to 6 hours after you take cholestyramine powder. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about how to take your other medicines along with cholestyramine powder.
- If you are also taking anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), diuretics (eg, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide), or thyroid hormones (eg, levothyroxine), ask your doctor how you should take them with cholestyramine powder.
- Do not take cholestyramine powder in its dry form. Always mix with water or other fluids before taking.
- Add the prescribed amount of medicine to 2 to 6 ounces (60 to 180 mL) of water or other noncarbonated liquid. Stir until well mixed (it will not dissolve). After you drink cholestyramine powder, rinse the glass with more liquid and drink it to be sure that all medicine is taken.
- Cholestyramine powder may also be mixed with soups (chicken noodle, tomato) or fruits (eg, applesauce, crushed pineapple) that contain plenty of fluid.
- Do not sip cholestyramine powder or hold it in your mouth for a long period of time. This may cause tooth changes such as discoloration, decay, or erosion of enamel. Be sure to use good oral hygiene while you are using cholestyramine powder.
- Drink several glasses (8 ounces [240 mL]) of water or other liquid daily, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
- If you miss a dose of cholestyramine powder, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use cholestyramine powder.
Important safety information:
- Cholestyramine powder may cause dizziness or drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use cholestyramine powder with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- If you experience constipation while taking cholestyramine powder, talk to your doctor about increased fiber intake and use of a stool softener to help relieve this side effect.
- Phenylketonuria patients - Some of these products contain phenylalanine. If you must have a diet that is low in phenylalanine, ask your pharmacist if it is in your product.
- The color of the powder may vary from batch to batch. This is normal and does not change the effect.
- Hormonal birth control (eg, birth control pills) may not work as well while you are using cholestyramine powder. To prevent pregnancy, use an extra form of birth control (eg, condoms).
- Lab tests, including triglyceride and cholesterol levels, may be performed while you use cholestyramine powder. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Use cholestyramine powder with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially constipation.
- Caution is advised when using cholestyramine powder in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially high blood chloride levels.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using cholestyramine powder while you are pregnant. It is not known if this medicine is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use cholestyramine powder, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
Possible side effects of cholestyramine powder:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black or bloody stools; irritation of the skin, tongue, or anal area; severe or persistent constipation; severe or persistent nausea; shortness of breath; sluggishness; stomach pain; unusual bruising or bleeding; vomiting.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include constipation; feeling of fullness.Proper storage of cholestyramine powder:
Store cholestyramine powder at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Brief storage between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) is permitted. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep cholestyramine powder out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about cholestyramine powder, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Cholestyramine powder is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take cholestyramine powder or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about cholestyramine powder. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to cholestyramine powder. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using cholestyramine powder.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.