Cholestyramine Side Effects
Not all side effects for cholestyramine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.
For the Consumer
Applies to cholestyramine: oral powder for suspension, oral tablet
In some animal studies, cholestyramine was found to cause tumors. It is not known whether cholestyramine causes tumors in humans.
Along with its needed effects, cholestyramine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking cholestyramine:Rare
- Black, tarry stools
- stomach pain (severe) with nausea and vomiting
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking cholestyramine:More common
- Loss of weight (sudden)
Some side effects of cholestyramine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:More common
- Heartburn or indigestion
- nausea or vomiting
- stomach pain
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to cholestyramine: compounding powder, oral powder for reconstitution
Gastrointestinal side effects include constipation (28%), heartburn (17%), belching or bloating (11%), nausea (9%), eructation, anorexia, steatorrhea, hemorrhoids, rectal pain and irritation, diverticulitis, and bleeding from a known duodenal ulcer. Intestinal obstruction and pancreatitis are also reported in the literature.
Gastrointestinal side effects occur in the majority of patients treated with cholestyramine. Constipation is most common and can be severe. Intestinal obstruction has been reported in pediatric patients. Elderly patients are probably at risk for this as well. In one large study, gastrointestinal side effects diminished with continued therapy. If gastrointestinal side effects are significant, dosage reductions, even if temporary, may be beneficial.
Metabolic side effects include hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis, weight loss, and weight gain. Cholestyramine has been reported to decrease the absorption of thyroxine (T4).
Hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis has been reported in pediatric as well as adult patients. Onset of clinical illness ranged from days to several weeks after beginning cholestyramine therapy. In three out of four adult cases in the literature, spironolactone was used as concomitant therapy. Several patients had moderate underlying renal disease. With appropriate supportive care, correction of the acidosis, and discontinuation of cholestyramine, the patients recovered.
The mechanism by which cholestyramine causes metabolic acidosis has not been completely resolved. However, it may involve the release of chloride ions by cholestyramine (a chloride salt form) in addition to binding of bicarbonate and carbonate ions to the resin, creating a metabolic imbalance. Patients with impaired renal function may be at increased risk due to impairment of chloride elimination.
Hematologic side effects include rare cases of elevated prothrombin time, ecchymoses, and anemia.
Hepatic side effects of cholestyramine include rare cases of abnormal liver function tests although causality is unknown. In addition, calcification in the right upper quadrant and of the biliary tree has been reported, as has biliary colic.
Respiratory side effects include asthma, wheezing, and shortness of breath although causality is unknown.
Nervous system side effects include headache, anxiety, vertigo, dizziness, syncope, drowsiness, femoral nerve pain, and paresthesia although causality is unknown.
Renal side effects include hematuria, dysuria, burnt odor to the urine, and diuresis, as well as a case report of urethral calculi composed of uric acid.
Hypersensitivity in the form of urticaria has been reported.
Musculoskeletal side effects include osteoporosis, muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, arthritis, and osteomalacia.
Loss of dental enamel has been reported when cholestyramine was mixed with a relatively acidic liquid (in the case-report Kool-Aid was used).
Ocular side effects include uveitis although causality is unknown.
More about cholestyramine
Related treatment guides
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.