Bile acid sequestrants bind to gastric acids inside your intestine. This action results in deactivating excessive acidity levels as well as prevents the likely onset of acid-induced diarrhea. Once bile acids are reduced, your liver may look to digest fats; this action is found to lower cholesterol levels – both low density lipoproteins (LDL) as well as triglycerides. As an extended use, a few bile acid sequestrants can also treat acute episodes of itching – especially, itchiness related to liver problems. Cholestyramine is a widely prescribed drug in this genre. But, can it be used to help shed extra weight? It is a wise thing to know if this med triggers loss of body weight.

Of the many types of bile acid sequestrants, cholestyramine is a commonly used med. The active ingredients help reduce gastric acids in your abdomen. Its dosage plan depends on your age, pre-existing disorders or diseases and above all, on how well your body accepts the initial doses. Your doctor may start your medication plan with a basic dose of 4 to 5 grams (g). Maintenance dose hovers at 7 to 8 g; in no instance, dosage is made to exceed 22 g within a 24-hour timespan. In general, you are advised to take lots of water while taking this med. As constipation or difficulties to pass stool are a common outcome, drinking extra amount of fluids can help ease your bowel movements.

Intake of cholestyramine, side effects and precautions

You are advised to adhere to all the safety instructions issued by your caregivers. Foremost of all, you must neither take this med as an over the counter (OTC) medication nor for self-medication. If you suspect any liver problems – such as hepatitis or cirrhosis of liver, tell your medical team about such ailments. Those who already have irregular bowel movements or problems in passing stools must tell their pharmacist and treating doctor about such gastric problems. It is a safe practice to consult with a qualified clinical practitioner prior to taking this drug.

Upon observing problems such as blood in stools, internal blockages, problems with your bowel movements, etc., consult with your treating physician as quickly as you possibly can. It is equally safe to tell about your clinical history and about your family’s medical track-record; if conditions such as Crohn’s disorder or allied diseases, surgical removal of a part of bowel fare in the medical histories, you are likely to face severe side effects. So, when you observe acutely adverse symptoms, reach out to 911 if you are living in the US. On the other hand, those who live in Canada can call Health Canada or reach out to a poison control center on an emergency mode. As an added precaution – talk to your caregiver about the other drugs you are currently taking.

Can cholestyramine trigger loss of weight?

Obesity or being overweight is a medical condition. All over the world, many people are facing risks of obesity. Sedentary lifestyle, excessive intake of fast foods and stressful living conditions are largely attributed as potential causes. Many people living with obesity are fighting hard to reduce their bodyweight through multiple approaches. The commonly followed approaches include opting to exercise more, switching over to a regulated diet which has less fats or fast foods and, in very remote cases, undergoing gastric bypass surgeries. Intake of anti-obesity medicines is tried as an approach to lose extra flab.

In this light, the bile acid sequestrant cholestyramine is widely regarded to have capabilities to help shed extra kilos of body weight. But, is it a safe practice to take this drug to meet your weight management goals? First, there are not many studies done to connect cholestyramine with weight loss. Secondly, this drug does not have the approval of the US-based drug clearing authority – food and drug administration (FDA). Thirdly, a few studies indicate that cholestyramine can prolong / delay the emptying of your abdomen; this process can make you feel full. Such fullness often makes you to consume lesser amounts of foods. Drop in appetite is – in fact, a side effect of cholestyramine. This condition is clinically labelled as anorexia. Over the medium term, this drug may bring about some reduction in body weight.

It becomes important to know more on the approved uses of this drug; these include – case management of bile-acid triggered diarrhea, itchiness caused by blockage in bile flow and to bring about a decrease in lipids or cholesterol levels. A caveat – this drug may deprive you of essential vitamins and a few nutrients or minerals. So, you need to proactively watch over likely deficiencies of vitamins A as well as K along with folic acid, calcium and iron. These deficits can soon turn into a health condition – especially, among women who are pregnant as well as those who are nursing a newly born infant. This is one of the reasons why your caregiver may prescribe a few supplements – if you are taking cholestyramine for a fairly longer span of time.

A few other adverse reactions triggered due to a longer term intake of cholestyramine are – an altered sense of taste, flatulence, pain in lower abdomen, acute inadequacies of vitamins, pain in your joints, etc. So, talk to your caregiver if your medication plan includes intake of cholestyramine for several weeks. On the weight loss front, very limited evidences exist to substantiate this claim. You are advised to talk to your dietician as well as a qualified caregiver prior to taking cholestyramine over the long term.

In sum, only a limited number of studies exist to link cholestyramine and weight loss. The drug is known to prolong the time taken to empty your stomach. Such delayed emptying can cause a condition called anorexia; wherein your appetite levels drop to a sizably lower level. So, loss of a few kilos of body weight may be possible when you take this drug for long. However, beware of possible side effects such as an acute deficiency of iron, vitamin A, vitamin K and folic acid. In some cases, a shortfall of calcium and a few other minerals has also been observed. It is hence a safe practice to talk to your treating doctor and follow all the instructions carefully for reaching your weight loss goals.

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