1 What is Welchol?

Brand: Welchol

Generic: Colesevelam

Welchol is a bile acid sequestrant used together with proper diet to treat hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, and prevent atherosclerosis.

This drug works by attaching to food substances in the intestine and prevent them from being absorbed resulting in their direct excretion into the feces. This drug requires a prescription. 

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2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Welchol, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

Studies in children 10 years of age and older have not reported any pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of colesevelam to lower high cholesterol while safety and efficacy of colesevelam in children younger than 10 years of age have not been established.

Studies in the elderly have not reported any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of colesevelam. Animal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus and studies in pregnant women and animals have shown no risks or adverse effects to fetuses.

The possibility of infant risk is still undetermined when taking this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the risks and benefits of this drug before breastfeeding.

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects.

Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other drugs such as insulin or sulfonylureas, Metformin, Cyclosporine, hydantoins, thyroid hormones, or warfarin. Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or non-prescription drugs.

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with magnesium is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as:

3 Proper Usage

To use Welchol properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. Follow the instruction on the label or as prescribed by your healthcare professional.

Take this drug with a meal. Swallow the tablet with water or some other form of liquid. Read and follow the directions on the label.

Follow the special diet and exercise plan given to you if you are using this drug for diabetes since this is essential in controlling your diabetes and will help the drug work optimally. Check your blood glucose regularly.

A special diet low in fat, sugar, and cholesterol may be recommended to you if you are using this drug to reduce your cholesterol levels.

Empty one packet into a glass or cup. Add a half to 1 cup (4 to 8 ounces) of water, fruit juice, or a diet soft drink. Stir well and drink it right away. This drug can be taken with “statins” or the two drugs can be dosed apart. Take this drug 4 hours before you take your vitamins The dose of this drug will be variable for different patients.

The directions on the label or the prescription by your healthcare professional should be followed. The dosage of this drug you take depends on the medical problem for which you are using this drug.  

Adults and children and teenagers 10 to 17 years of age with hypercholesterolemia and/or type 2 diabetes are given one 3.75 gram packet once a day or one 1.875 gram packet two times a day.

Use and dose in children younger than 10 years of age must be determined by your healthcare professional. Also, adults and children with hypercholesterolemia and/or diabetes are given 6 tablets each day, taken as a single dose or 3 tablets two times a day.

Use and dose in children must be determined by your healthcare professional. A missed dose should be taken as soon as possible. However, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule if it is almost time for your next dose.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing. Keep out of the reach of children. Dispose any outdated or expired drugs and ask your healthcare professional for the proper disposal of the drugs.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Welchol, there are some precautions you must take. Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug.

Your healthcare professional may want to measure the cholesterol levels in your blood on a regular basis to make sure this drug is working properly. You will also need to check your blood sugar regularly at home. 

Consult with your healthcare professional before you plan to stop taking this drug as this may cause your blood cholesterol and sugar levels to increase again. This drug can cause hypoglycaemia and lead to unconsciousness.

The symptoms of hypoglycaemia include anxiety, a behavior change similar to being drunk, blurred vision, cold sweats, confusion, cool, pale skin, difficulty with thinking, drowsiness, excessive hunger, a fast heartbeat, a headache that continues, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, restless sleep, shakiness, slurred speech, and unusual tiredness or weakness.

You can eat glucose tablets or gel, corn syrup, honey, or sugar cubes, or you can drink fruit juice, a non-diet soft drink, or sugar dissolved in water to bring glucose levels up again.

Stop using this drug and check with your healthcare professional right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness. These may be symptoms of acute pancreatitis.

This drug can cause constipation, and for some people, this can be very uncomfortable. If you have problems with severe constipation while taking this drug, talk to your healthcare professional.

Discuss with your healthcare professional before taking any other prescription or non-prescription drugs and herbal or vitamin supplements.

5 Potential Side Effects

Make sure you meet with your doctor in using Welchol to avoid unwanted potential side effects. Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur.

Inform you healthcare provider immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • blurred vision
  • chills
  • cold sweats
  • coma
  • confusion
  • congestion
  • cool, pale skin
  • cough
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry or a sore throat
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever
  • the general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • increased hunger
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches or pain
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • nightmares
  • pounding in the ears
  • a runny nose
  • seizures
  • shakiness
  • shivering
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • slurred speech
  • sweating
  • tender
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • trouble with sleeping
  • trouble with swallowing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • voice changes
  • vomiting
  • bleeding after defecation
  • darkened urine
  • the difficulty with swallowing
  • indigestion
  • pain or discomfort in the chest
  • pains in the stomach, side or abdomen
  • possibly radiating to the back
  • pressure in the stomach
  • severe stomach pain
  • swelling of the abdominal or stomach area
  • unable to swallow saliva
  • uncomfortable swelling around the anus
  • yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the drug, these side effects may eventually disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. 

If any of the following side effects persists or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088. 

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