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written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 9/26/2009

Colesevelam is a drug used to treat high cholesterol. Like many other drugs, colesevelam has certain risks and side effects. Learn about this drug so you can make an informed decision about whether this drug is right for you.

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    This drug is used to lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is a bile acid-binding resin that causes bile to pass out of the body, which makes the liver produce more. When the liver produces bile acid, it takes cholesterol out of the body and reduces levels of cholesterol in the blood.

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    Drug Administration

    This drug should be taken by mouth as prescribed by your doctor. Take each pill with at least 8 ounces of liquid. Once you begin taking this drug, your doctor may change your dosage based on your response. Take your medication at the same time each day to help you avoid missing a dose. This can also help increase the effectiveness of the drug.

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    Colesevelam should not be taken by anyone who has had an allergic reaction to the drug or any of its ingredients. This drug should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions. If you have an intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis or high triglyceride levels. You should tell your doctor if you have a history of constipation, thyroid problems, vitamin absorption problems, or major intestinal surgery.

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    This drug should not be taken by pregnant women unless it is absolutely necessary. Scientists do not know if this drug passes into the breast milk, so do not use this drug while breast-feeding without consulting your doctor. This drug should be used with caution in elderly people, as some of the side effects of this drug can become worse with age.

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    Side Effects

    The most common side effects of this drug are heartburn, gas and upset stomach. Constipation can also occur, but can be prevented if you drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluid each day. Less common, but serious, side effects include inability to move your bowels, unusual bruising, muscle aches and unusual bleeding. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience hives, itching, rash or swelling of the lips, face, throat or tongue, as they are signs of a serious allergic reaction.

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    Drug Interactions

    Let your doctor know if you are taking any prescription or over the counter drugs, herbal supplements or vitamins, as they can interact with this drug. Colesevelam can also react with extended-release verapamil, so tell your doctor if you are taking the drug before starting a course of this medication.