Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Rectal)
Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
SOE-dee-um pol-ee-STYE-reen SUL-foe-nate
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Exchange Resin
Uses For This Medicine
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is used to treat high levels of potassium in the blood, also called hyperkalemia.
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For sodium polystyrene sulfonate, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to sodium polystyrene sulfonate or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of sodium polystyrene sulfonate in the pediatric population. However, pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of sodium polystyrene sulfonate in children are not expected.
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate should not be used in newborn infants who have reduced or slow bowel movements.
No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of sodium polystyrene sulfonate in geriatric patients.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving sodium polystyrene sulfonate, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using sodium polystyrene sulfonate with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of sodium polystyrene sulfonate. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Bowel blockage or
- Newborn infants who have slow bowel movements—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Congestive heart failure, or
- Edema (fluid retention) or
- Heart rhythm problems (eg, arrhythmia, QT prolongation) or
- Hypertension (high blood pressure), severe or
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood) or
- Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood)
- Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) or
- Kidney disease—Use with caution. May cause side effects to become worse.
- Patients not having any bowel movements after a surgery
- Stomach or bowel problems (eg, bleeding, colitis, constipation, perforation), history of—Avoid use in patients with these conditions.
Proper Use of This Medicine
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you sodium polystyrene sulfonate in a hospital. Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is given as a rectal enema.
Use sodium polystyrene sulfonate at least 3 hours before or after taking oral medicines. If your stomach takes too long to empty food (gastroparesis), use sodium polystyrene sulfonate 6 hours before or after taking oral medicines.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
It is very important that your doctor check you closely to make sure that sodium polystyrene sulfonate is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood) may occur while you are using sodium polystyrene sulfonate. Check with your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms: confusion, dry mouth, increased thirst, irregular heartbeat, irritability, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, or shortness of breath.
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate may cause a serious stomach or bowel problem, called intestinal necrosis. This is more likely to occur if you have a history of bowel disease, bowel surgery, low blood volume, kidney problems or if you take sorbitol together with sodium polystyrene sulfonate. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child have severe constipation, severe stomach pain, bloody, black, or tarry stools, or vomit blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds.
Tell your doctor if you have unexplained weight gain or edema (fluid retention or body swelling) while using sodium polystyrene sulfonate.
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate may cause lung or breathing problems (eg, bronchitis, bronchopneumonia) when you inhale its powder form. It may also increase your risk of having aspiration. Take sodium polystyrene sulfonate in an upright position to prevent this. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
If you are taking aluminum or magnesium-containing antacids or laxatives, tell your doctor before using sodium polystyrene sulfonate. These medicines may keep sodium polystyrene sulfonate from working properly and may cause serious side effects.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
This Medicine Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine 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 or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Bloody vomit
- chest pain
- cough producing mucus
- difficulty with breathing
- fever or chills
- severe stomach pain
- sore throat
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing
Incidence not known
- decrease in the amount of urine
- dry mouth
- increased thirst
- irregular heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
- nausea or vomiting
- noisy, rattling breathing
- numbness and tingling around the mouth, fingertips, or feet
- severe constipation
- swelling of the fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs
- stomach cramps or pain
- troubled breathing at rest
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weight gain
- weight loss
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
- muscle spasms (tetany) or twitching
- pounding or rapid pulse
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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