Diarrhea is a medical issue that can have a variety of causes, one of which is the abnormal activity of bile acids. Taking cholestyramine for diarrhea can be effective when it is due to this factor, as this compound helps to prevent bile acids from reacting with other molecules in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The unique action of this compound allows it to reduce this form of excretion, but diarrhea caused from other conditions. Certain aspects of this drug, such as side effects, can also limit its use among some individuals.
Individuals that have Crohn's disease and other abdominal disorders may sometimes have a section of bowel removed. Normally, this section, called the ilium, absorbs bile acids, so when it is taken out, these acids move to rear areas of the bowel, binding to water molecules, and leading to abnormal excretion. Using cholestyramine for diarrhea allows this medication to enter the large bowel, and bind to bile acids so that they do not interact with water, in a process known as sequestration.
Often, individuals taking cholestyramine for diarrhea use a powdered form of this compound, which is then mixed with water to allow it to be swallowed. Common doses can range from 4 to 8 grams taken twice a day, with a meal. Depending on the frequency of the diarrhea and individual tolerance to side effects, the total 8 to 16 g daily dose can be divided into several smaller doses. Over time, some individuals may choose to increase their dosage of cholestyramine for diarrhea, but these increases usually take place slowly, over the course of weeks.
Side effects can sometimes occur when taking cholestyramine for diarrhea, just as with most other drugs. Most of these effects are relatively minor, and are limited to some gastrointestinal discomfort or constipation, which many people become tolerant to after a few days of using this compound. Very rarely, more serious adverse events, such as bloody stool or intestinal obstruction, can arise, and these types of problems often require medical attention to resolve.
Cholestyramine may sometimes interact with other drugs and compounds that individuals take orally. Sometimes, it can slow the absorption of medications into the body when taken at the same time, although this effect can be mitigated in some individuals by adjusting dosage times and drinking more water to help fully dissolve other oral drugs. Sequestering bile acids can also lead to difficulties absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that some people choose to take multivitamins in order to maintain proper levels of nutrition.