Sevelamer is a medication prescribed to treat hyperphosphatemia. This is a condition in which the bloodstream has too much phosphate. Specifically, it is prescribed to patients who are on dialysis because of chronic kidney disease. This medicine works by binding to the phosphate to prevent its absorption. Decreasing unsafe levels of phosphate can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as help keep the bones strong.
This medication is available as a capsule, a tablet or a powder. A doctor will typically prescribe a dose to be taken three times daily with meals. Patients who are taking other medications in addition to sevelamer must take them at least one hour prior to this drug, or three hours afterward. This prevents sevelamer from inhibiting the actions of other medicines. Patients taking the capsule should swallow it whole, while those taking the powder must dissolve it in a full glass of water and consume all of it.
Some side effects may occur with the use of sevelamer, which should be reported to the doctor if they are troublesome or persistent. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset. Constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence may also occur. Other patients may notice a headache or a cough.
Rarely, patients may experience an allergic reaction to this medicine. They should go to the emergency room if they experience swelling of the facial area and throat, problems breathing, and a rash. Severe dizziness and itching may also occur.
Other serious side effects have been reported rarely. Patients should get immediate medical help if they experience severe stomach pain or abdominal swelling. Constipation and an inability to have a bowel movement also require medical care.
Prior to using sevelamer to treat high phosphate levels, patients should disclose all their other medical conditions. As of 2011, it is unknown whether this medicine may pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Women who are pregnant should only use it if there is a greater risk to the mother from not using it. Those who have a history of stomach or intestinal problems, dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing, or have had past stomach or intestinal surgeries may be unable to use sevelamer. Its use may also be contraindicated for those who have a bowel blockage or low levels of phosphorus.
Some other medications may interact with sevelamer. Patients should discuss their other medications and supplements with the physician, including seizure drugs, phenytoin, and cyclosporine. Medicines for an irregular heartbeat, blood thinners, and ciprofloxacin may also interact with sevelamer.