Cholestyramine: Uses & Side Effects

Cholestyramine helps reduce cholesterol (fatty acids) in the blood. High cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

Cholestyramine is used to lower high levels of cholesterol in the blood, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (“bad” cholesterol).

Cholestyramine powder is also used to treat itching caused by a blockage in the bile ducts of the gallbladder.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use cholestyramine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • a blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines).

To make sure cholestyramine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • chronic constipation;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • diabetes;
  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease; or
  • coronary artery disease (clogged arteries).

This medicine may contain phenylalanine. Talk to your doctor before using cholestyramine if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).

Taking cholestyramine can make it harder for your body to absorb certain vitamins. Your doctor may recommend you take a vitamin supplement.

You may have an even greater need for vitamin supplements during pregnancy or while you are breast-feeding a baby. Follow your doctor’s instructions about taking vitamin supplements during treatment with cholestyramine.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • ongoing or worsening constipation;
  • severe stomach pain;
  • blood in your urine;
  • black, bloody, or tarry stools; or
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding.

Side effects such as constipation may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild constipation, diarrhea;
  • stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite;
  • bloating or gas;
  • irritation of your tongue; or
  • itching or irritation around your rectal area.


Keywords: Cholestyramine; Prevalite.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.