GENERIC NAME: cholestyramine
BRAND NAME: Prevalite, Questran, Questran Light
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
USES: Cholestyramine is used for reducing cholesterol levels in the blood, to relieve the itching of liver and biliary disease, and to treat overdoses of digoxin (Lanoxin), or thyroid hormone. Cholestyramine also is recommended for the rapid elimination of leflunomide (Arava).
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of cholestyramine are:
- abdominal pain,
- weight loss, and
- excessive passage of gas (flatulence).
Other side effects include:
- discolored tooth,
- gastric ulcer, and
- gastrointestinal bleeding.
Long-term use of cholestyramine may cause a deficiency of vitamin A, D, E, and K. Constipation can be an important side effect of cholestyramine, perhaps because the presence of free bile acids in the intestine helps determine the amount of water in stool, and cholestyramine binds the free bile acids. It is recommended that additional fluids be drunk when taking cholestyramine; however, it is not known for certain if this prevents constipation, and more aggressive treatment with fiber, stool softeners or even laxatives such as milk of magnesia may be necessary.
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