Cholestyramine is used to treat:
- High blood cholesterol levels called hypercholesterolemia
- Preventing coronary heart disease in men who have primary hypercholesterolemia
- Relieving itching caused by primary biliary cirrhosis
- Relieving diarrhea associated with Crohn’s disease
Hypercholesterolemia is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. This condition affects the way the body processes cholesterol. As a result, people hypercholesterolemia has a higher risk of heart disease and a greater risk of an early heart attack. High cholesterol is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. With hypercholesterolemia, a person’s risk of high cholesterol is higher because a mutation in a gene changes how the body processes cholesterol. This mutation prevents the body from removing the bad cholesterol from the blood.
Coronary heart disease grows when the major blood vessels that supply your heart with oxygen, blood, and nutrients become damaged. Plaques in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease. When plaque builds up, it narrows your coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart. Eventually, the decreased blood flow may cause chest pain and shortness of breath. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack. There is plenty you can do to prevent this type of condition. A healthy lifestyle can make a big impact.
Primary biliary cirrhosis is a chronic disease in which the bile ducts in your liver are slowly destroyed. Bile is a fluid made in your liver and it aids with digestion. It also helps your body get rid of cholesterol, toxins and worn-out red blood cells. This condition is considered an autoimmune disease which means your body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy cells and tissue. Common early symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis include:
- Itchy skin
- Dry eyes and mouth
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of your digestive tract that leads to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. This condition can involve in different areas of the digestive tract in different people. The swelling produced by the disease frequently spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both debilitating and painful. Sometimes, it may lead to life-threatening complications.
Cholestyramine is a type of medicine called a bile acid sequestrant. This helps remove 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 also lowers cholesterol levels. Cholestyramine is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product comes as a powder intended for oral use. This is available in the dosage forms of 231 g, 378 g, and 210 g.
How does Cholestyramine work?
Cholestyramine binds to the bile acids in the intestine and prevents them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, they pass through the intestine with the cholestyramine and are excreted in the feces. This triggers the liver to produce more bile acids from the cholesterol in the blood. In which it lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Bile is a fluid that is created by the liver and is released into the intestine through the bile duct as part of digestion. It contains substances called bile acids which the liver makes from cholesterol in the blood. Bile acids aid the digestion of fats consumed in the diet. The bile acids are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and are then returned to the liver following digestion.
High cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease by clogging and narrowing the arteries. This medication decreases the risk of hardening of the arteries and the problems this may cause. It can be sued alone or in combination with other cholesterol-lowering medicines.
How to use Cholestyramine?
Cholestyramine is to be taken by mouth as directed by your doctor. This is usually taken 1 to 2 times a day with a meal. This comes as a powder with doses measured by the scoopful or in individual dose packets. Mix the medication in at least 2-6 ounces of liquid (milk, water, or fruit juice). Stir it 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 doses. You may also mix this medication with watery soups, applesauce, or some pulpy fruit with a lot of juice. Do not take your medication in the dry powder form. Do not also hold the mixture in your mouth for long since it can damage your teeth. This prescription should not be taken with an hour after or 4 hours before you take other drugs.
The prescribed dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the treatment. It is important that you take this medication exactly as it is given by your doctor. You should not take less or more often than the prescription. Your doctor may direct you to start at a lower dose and eventually increase it. Let your doctor know if your condition worsens or does not improve. You should not suddenly stop taking this medication without the consent of your doctor. Continue to take it even if you feel well and complete the full prescription given.
What are the side effects of Cholestyramine?
Common side effects:
- Abdominal discomfort or pain
- Loss of appetite
- Excess fat in feces
- Rash and irritation of the skin, tongue, and perianal area
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- Severe stomach pain
- Blood in your urine
- Unusual bleeding or easy bruising
- Ongoing or worsening constipation
Warnings and Precautions
- This medication should be used with caution in children with inherited high blood cholesterol and those with diabetes.
- Cholestyramine should not be used in people with total blockage of the bile duct.
- This is not recommended for use in children under 6 years of age.
- Before using this drug, tell your doctor if you have any medical history especially of hemorrhoids, constipation, and kidney disease.
- This should only be used when needed during pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding women, consult your doctor first before using this drug.
- Keep this medication far from the reach of children or pets.