Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate

1 What is Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate?

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is used to lower down excessive levels of potassium in the body. It is a resin, and itworks by drawing potassium into the large intestine for eventual removal. Potassium is important for the function of the nerves and muscles. High potassium levels can cause muscle weakness and, at extreme levels, irregular heart rate. High levels of potassium (hyperkalemia) can be a result of kidney problems, use of certain medications (like heart medicines, water pills, and antibiotics).

This formulation of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is administered as an enema.

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is a prescription drug and should be used only with doctor’s supervision. Improper use of this drug can result in life-threatening symptoms. 

2 What to know before using

Here are the important factors that should be considered before taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.


Tell the doctor if you experienced allergies to Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate before. You cannot take Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate if you are allergic to it.

Health conditions

Make sure to tell all your health problems to the doctor before using Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. You cannot use Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate if you have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Have low potassium levels
  • Have not yet had a bowel movement after surgery, or diagnosed by the doctor to have very slow peristalsis
  • Recently have or have history of bowel surgery
  • Have any intestinal condition that causes blockage (obstructive bowel disease)
  • At risk of constipation or compaction, or having history of chronic constipation, impaction, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic colitis, or bowel blockage
  • Newborn patients with reduced bowel activity
  • If you are taking magnesium or sorbitol

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may cause complications or interact with certain medical conditions. The doctor needs to know if you have the following conditions before prescribing Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate:

  • If you are prescribed on a low-salt diet
  • If you are prescribed to take the drug Digoxin
  • Any heart problem
  • Problems with the kidney
  • Swelling or fluid retention
  • Dehydration or low blood volume
  • Abnormal electrolyte levels in the blood


Tell the doctor if you are pregnant before taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may be harmful to the unborn baby when given to pregnant patients.


Ask your doctor if you can breastfeed first when taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.

Drug interactions

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may interact with certain medicines, so mention all the drugs you take to the doctor. Antacids may increase the risk of bowel blockage, and other problems. The doctor needs to know if you have any of the following medicines:

  • Sorbitol
  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Lithium drugs
  • Thyroxine or other thyroid medicines

3 Proper usage

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is available as an enema and so always given by the doctor or other health professionals. You need to be monitored, so Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is only given in thhe hospital or other health facilities. Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is usually given every 6 hours until potassium levels become normal.

Administration of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is usually performed in this manner. First, your health provider may first give you a cleansing enema to clean your colon. Then, a soft rubber tube is inserted into your anus that will facilitate administration of the enema. The Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate enema will be first warmed before administration. The enema is then administered and retained in your colon for 30 minutes to several hours. You will have to be in bed at this time. After drainage of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate enema, your health provider will give an irrigating enema to flush out the remaining resin in the colon.

If you feel uncomfortable or have abdominal cramps while Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is given, make it known to your health provider. The enema solution may not be warm enough, which may cause cramps.

Blood tests will frequently be done to check your potassium levels before and after giving Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.

It is important not to miss a dose of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. If you missed a dose, call your doctor at once. Because Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate will be given by health professionals, overdosage is unlikely.

4 Precautions to take

Lab tests such as blood electrolyte levels and electrocardiograms (ECG) is needed to determine if Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate and check for early signs of undesirable effects. Make sure not to miss doses or blood tests when you are taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.

Follow diet restrictions needed when you are taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. You must avoid foods with sorbitol, as well as potassium-rich items such as salt substitutes, bananas, apricots, milk, chocolate, and nuts.

Call your doctor right away if you experience any symptoms or discomfort after taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.  

5 Potential side effects

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may cause serious side effects that require medical attention. Call the doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe allergic reaction symptoms such as skin rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, swelling the lips, mouth, throat, or tongue
  • Vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Passing out black or tarry stools
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Fast, or slow, or irregular heartbeats
  • Muscle cramps, pain or spasms
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Having water diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty concentrating

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may cause common but minor side effects such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

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