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Cholestyramine is used to treat hypercholesterolemia (increased cholesterol levels in the blood), pruritus associated with partial biliary obstruction (partial blockage of bile duct) and primary biliary cirrhosis (damage to bile ducts in the liver). It is also used to treat diarrhea associated with conditions like Crohn’s disease (inflammatory disease of the colon), ileal resection (surgical removal of part of small intestine called as ileum), vagotomy (surgical removal of one or two branches of vagus nerve), diabetic vagal neuropathy and radiation-induced diarrhea.

How it works

Cholestyramine belongs to a group of medicines called bile acid binding resins. It binds to bile acids in the intestine and promotes its excretion, preventing its reabsorption back into the liver. This increases the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids and lowers the level of cholesterol in the body.

Common side effects

Constipation, Flatulence


Expert advice

  • Inform your doctor before taking the drug if you have phenylketonuria.
  • Children may require administration of folic acid with cholestyramine. Cholestyramine is not recommended for children less than 6 years of age.
  • Make sure you take other prescribed medicines atleast one hour before taking cholestyramine as the drugs may affect absorption of cholestyramine.
  • Avoid alcohol intake while taking this drug as it may increase the level of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is cholestyramine safe?
Cholestyramine is relatively safe if used as prescribed. In case of any side-effects, please consult your doctor.
Q. Is cholestyramine used for diarrhea?
Yes. Cholestyramine is used to treat diarrhea associated with various diseases.
Q. Is cholestyramine a statin drug?
No. Cholestyramine is a bile acid-binding resin, not a statin drug.
Q. Is cholestyramine gluten-free?
Yes. Cholestyramine is gluten free. However, please refer to package insert of the prescribed brand before use.
Q. Can I take cholestyramine with Imodium?
Cholestyramine may be taken with Imodium (loperamide) if prescribed by your doctor.
Q. Does cholestyramine cause constipation, diarrhea, gas, hair loss or increased triglycerides? 
Cholestyramine is expected to cause side-effects such as constipation and gas. It is not expected to cause diarrhea, hair loss or increased triglycerides. If you notice any such changes, please consult your doctor.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)