Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Colestyramine

Colestyramine is prescribed to reduce high levels of blood cholesterol.

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Colestyramine is the active ingredient of Questran and Questran Lite.

General Information

Colestyramine is prescribed to reduce high levels of blood cholesterol. It is a resin that binds to bile-acids in the gut, thereby reducing re-uptake, as well as cholesterol levels in the blood. Colestyramine is furthermore prescribed to treat some forms of diarrhoea.

Colestyramine should never be taken dry, but should always be mixed with appropriate amounts of water.

This medication does not cure high cholesterol, but simply helps to keep it under control. For it to be effective you need to keep taking the drug as prescribed. Diet, exercise and weight loss will help to lower cholesterol even further.

Colestyramine may cause tooth discoloration. Rinsing the mouth after use, and regular brushing and flossing is advised.

Colestyramine may affect the absorption of some medications and it is advised that you take other medication at least 1 hour before, or 4-6 hours after taking colestyramine.

How does colestyramine work?

Cholesterol in the human body is normally converted to bile acids. Colestyramine binds to these bile acids, thereby reducing cholesterol and adding bulk to bowel movements.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 4

Available as: Colestyramine is available as a powder for solution.

What does it do? Colestyramine has an anti-cholesterol and anti-diarrhoea action.

Overdose risk: Low

Dependence risk: Low

Is colestyramine available as a generic? No

Is colestyramine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: When treating cholesterol it may take a few weeks for Colestyramine to exert its effect. When treating diarrhoea, an effect should be seen within 24 hours.

Duration of action: Up to 24 hours

Dietary advice: A low fat diet is advised, as fatty foods may lead to a reduced effect.

Stopping this medicine: This medication should not be stopped without consulting your doctor. Premature discontinuation may cause original symptoms to recur.

Prolonged use : Colestyramine reduces absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E and K. Taking supplements is advised.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have a stomach ulcer
  • You are allergic to tartrazine
  • You have jaundice
  • You have haemorrhoids
  • You are taking other medication.

Pregnancy: Caution. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant. If used, additional vitamin supplementation is advised.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use. If used, additional vitamin supplementation is advised.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: No dosage has been established for children younger than 6. Colestyramine is not recommended in children under the age of 2.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly, as side effects are more likely to occur.

Driving and hazardous work: No special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Bloating/abdominal discomfort

x

x

Nausea/vomiting

x

x

Constipation

x

x

Flatulence

x

x

Indigestion

x

x

Headache

x

x

Dizziness

x

x

Diarrhoea

x

x

Unusual bruising/ bleeding

x

x

Interactions:

Drug interactions:

Digoxin

Absorption of digoxin affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Vitamins A, D, E and K

Absorption of vitamins affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Paracetamol

Absorption of this drug affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Ibuprofen

Absorption of this drug affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Thiazide

Absorption of this drug affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Diuretics

Absorption of this drug affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Thyroxin

Effect on thyroid reduced; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Warfarin

Absorption of this drug affected; Space at least 4 hours apart.

Food interactions

Low-fat meals are advised.

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a stomach ulcer, jaundice, haemorrhoids, or if you are allergic to tartrazine.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults:

High cholesterol: 4 g 1-2 daily in water. This may gradually be increased to 12-24 g/day in 3-4 divided doses.

Diarrhoea: 4g 3 times daily

Children:

Children over 6 years of age: 240 mg/kg/day in divided doses

 

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