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What Is Colesevelam?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Colesevelam is a generic medication commonly prescribed to lower high levels of cholesterol; however, it may also be used by patients with type two diabetes to help manage blood sugar levels. Colesevelam is a bile acid sequestrant, which means that it works by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body. Those who are taking other drugs in addition to this one should be aware that it can decrease their absorption. Patients should discuss an appropriate dosing schedule with their doctors.

This medication is not intended to be the sole course of treatment for patients with high cholesterol or with type two diabetes. Patients must also work with a dietitian to develop a low-fat meal plan. Regular exercise can also help manage diabetes and lower cholesterol.

Colesevelam is typically prescribed once or twice daily, with a meal. It is available as a tablet, which should be taken with a full glass of water. This drug is also available in pre-measured packets of powder. One packet should be poured into a glass and mixed with one cup of water before consuming. A single dosage equals one packet.

Some side effects may occur with the use of colesevelam, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience an upset stomach or constipation. Those who become constipated should consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking an over-the-counter laxative.

More serious side effects may also occur, which require immediate medical attention. These can include nausea, vomiting, and severe stomach pain. Some patients may notice unusual bruising or bleeding, as well as problems swallowing or severe dizziness. These serious side effects are uncommon.

Before taking colesevelam for high cholesterol or diabetes, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. This drug is not expected to cause harm to a nursing infant when used by women who are breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant should discuss potential risks with their doctors. It may be contraindicated for use by those who have a history of pancreatitis, frequent constipation, or hemorrhoids. Stomach or intestinal disorders, vitamin deficiencies, or bleeding problems, as well as phenylketonuria may also preclude a patient from taking colesevelam.

This medication may interact with other medications and supplements. Patients should disclose all other drugs they are taking, including blood thinners. Those who take other medications like birth control pills, phenytoin, or glyburide must take these pills a minimum of four hours before their dosage of colesevelam to avoid interfering with the drugs' efficacy. The doctor may also recommend the patient take a multivitamin at least four hours prior to the dosage, because this drug can interfere with absorption of vitamins.

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