Sodium Cellulose Phosphate (Oral)

Sodium cellulose phosphate is used to prevent patients from absorbing too much calcium and from developing calcium-containing kidney stones.


Although individuals are designed to absorb nutrients and mineral from their food, health problems can occur if this absorption doesn't occur at the correct rate. If patients absorb too much calcium from their diet, for example, the excess can form a stone or calcified mass.

Kidney stones are not uncommon but they can cause the patient significant pain. While they can be passed in the patient's urine, large kidney stones may require ultrasound therapy or surgical removal.

If the patient is known to have a high risk of calcium-containing stones occurring, they can be prevented fairly easily. When sodium cellulose phosphate is taken orally, it binds to certain minerals when they are ingested. By combining with calcium, sodium cellulose phosphate prevents the mineral from reaching the kidneys and forming as stones.

As kidney stones can be caused by various substances, doctors must confirm that patients are at risk of calcium-containing stones, as opposed to other types of kidney stones, before embarking on a treatment regimen of sodium cellulose phosphate.

Once physicians have confirmed that the patient is absorbing too much calcium in their diet, sodium cellulose phosphate can be used to reduce the amount of calcium which reaches the kidneys, thus decreasing the risk of calcium kidney stones from occurring.

Often used as a long-term medication, sodium cellulose phosphate can be given as a preventative measure and should prevent the patient from suffering further complications as a result of excess mineral absorption.

Conditions Treated

  • Hypercalcemia (High levels of calcium in the blood)
  • Hypercalciuria (Elevated levels of calcium in urine)

Type of Medicine

  • Miscellaneous genitourinary tract agent

Side Effects

When taking sodium cellulose phosphate, it's not uncommon for patients to experience stomach and abdominal discomfort and/or loose bowel movements or diarrhea. In general, these side-effects are mild when they do occur and they may not affect every patient. If patients are concerned, however, or if side-effects are particularly severe, they should seek medical advice.

Some side-effects may require more urgent medical intervention. If patients experience the following adverse effects when taking sodium cellulose phosphate, they should seek medical help:

  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sleepiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle twitching or spasms

If patients notice any other side-effects when taking sodium cellulose phosphate, they should consult their physician and/or pharmacist. In addition to this, patients can report the presence of side-effects to the Food and Drug Administration, if they choose to do so. This helps the FDA to collate information about prescription medications and their effects. Patients can contact the FDA on 1-800-FDA-1088 if they wish to report side-effects when taking sodium cellulose phosphate.


If patients are prescribed sodium cellulose phosphate in order to prevent kidney stones from forming, they are typically given a dose of 3.3-5mg to be taken three times a day. This equates to 10-15mg per day as a starting dose. Following this, doctors may reduce the dose.

Although this is a typical standard dosing regime for treatment with sodium cellulose phosphate, it may not be applicable to every patient. Physicians will advise the patient what dose they should take and, as every patient differs, their treatment regimen will be unique to them.

The above information is applicable to adult patients only. In the vast majority of cases, sodium cellulose phosphate is not recommended for treating children or infants. Due to this, younger patients may require alternative treatment if they are suffering from hypercalcemia and/or hypercalciuria.

Normally prescribed in powder form, patients are usually advised to mix the powder with an 8oz glass of water. Unless otherwise instructed, patients can also use fruit juice or a soft drink to mix the medication. Patients should drink the fluid and then add a little more liquid to the glass and drink that as well. This ensures that patients get the full amount of sodium cellulose phosphate and that no residue is left in the glass.

Generally, patients must take sodium cellulose phosphate with food. If the medication is taken an hour or more after the patient has eaten, it will not be effective.

When patients are taking sodium cellulose phosphate, they are often advised to drink at least 8oz of fluid per hour, when they are awake. Staying hydrated can also help to decrease the risk of kidney stones forming and can, therefore, increase the efficacy of sodium cellulose phosphate treatment.

If patients miss a dose of sodium cellulose phosphate, they should skip the dose and take the next dose when it is due. Patients should not take double doses of sodium cellulose phosphate or attempt to catch up on the dose they missed.

If patients are unsure how to take their medication, they should seek advice from their physician or a pharmacist.


If patients have made any lifestyle changes or are adhering to special diets, they should inform their physician before taking sodium cellulose phosphate. Low-sugar and/or low-sodium diets can affect treatment with sodium cellulose phosphate, and an excess of dairy products, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, and tea can also affect treatment.

In most cases, patients will be advised not to consume dairy products, chocolate, dark leafy vegetables, rhubarb, and tea because these substances can increase calcium levels and increase the risk of kidney stones forming.

Patients should consult their physician if they are taking Vitamin C or magnesium supplements. Generally, patients are advised not to take Vitamin C supplements alongside sodium cellulose phosphate as it can increase the risk of calcium-containing kidney stones occurring.

If patients are taking magnesium supplements after consulting with their physician, these supplements should be taken at least an hour before or after taking their medication. If magnesium and sodium cellulose phosphate are taken too closely together, the magnesium will prevent the medication from working properly.

If patients have been diagnosed with other, unrelated medical conditions, it may affect the suitability of sodium cellulose phosphate as a treatment. In some cases, sodium cellulose phosphate can increase the risk of developing bone problems, for example, so patients with related conditions may be unable to take this medication.

If patients have been diagnosed with the following conditions, sodium cellulose phosphate may not be an appropriate treatment for them:

  • Swelling or edema
  • Bone disease
  • Parathyroid disease or associated conditions
  • Intestinal conditions
  • Heart disease

As sodium cellulose phosphate contains a relatively high level of sodium, this could cause the patient to retain water. If patients already suffer from edema, sodium cellulose phosphate is likely to worsen their condition. Similarly, if patients have an established heart condition, the sodium present in sodium cellulose phosphate may cause them to retain water, even if this hasn't been an issue before.

Although sodium cellulose phosphate is not typically associated with drug interactions, it is possible for medications to affect one another. Patients should discuss any medications, supplements or vitamins they take with their doctor before taking sodium cellulose phosphate. Similarly, patients should seek medical advice before taking any medicines, supplements or vitamins once they have commenced treatment with sodium cellulose phosphate.

When taking sodium cellulose phosphate, patients should undergo regular check-ups and see their physician at regular intervals. Tests will be carried out to ensure that the medication is working as it should and that it isn't causing the patient to suffer any unwanted or adverse effects.

As sodium cellulose phosphate contains a high level of sodium, patients are often advised to avoid foods with a high salt content and may be told to refrain from adding salt to their food.

Occasionally, patients may experience an allergic reaction to sodium cellulose phosphate. Although this isn't common, it should be treated as a medical emergency if it does occur. Allergic reactions can take effect quickly and the patient may have trouble breathing or may experience swelling of the face, throat or lips. In addition to this, the patient may develop hives or feel itchy. If patients suspect they are experiencing an allergic reaction, they should seek immediate medical attention.


As patients are normally prescribed sodium cellulose phosphate on an outpatient basis, they are required to keep the medication at home. If patients are advised to take sodium cellulose phosphate thrice daily with meals, they may also need to carry the medication with them when they are out or at work.

When storing any medication, it's important that it's kept somewhere secure. No-one else should be able to access the patient's medicine, particularly young children and/or pets.

In most circumstances, sodium cellulose phosphate should be kept at room temperature and shouldn't be exposed to heat, direct light and/or moisture.

If patients are told to discontinue treatment or if the sodium cellulose phosphate reaches its use-by date, it should be disposed of responsibly. Rather than throwing medication out with household waste, patients should seek an appropriate disposal method. Pharmacists and medical clinics are often able to provide specific medical waste disposal facilities.


If left untreated, hypercalcemia can cause kidney stones to form and this can result in pain and discomfort for the patient. If the patient is at risk of calcium-containing stones, however, sodium cellulose phosphate can be used to negate this risk.

By preventing calcium from reaching the kidneys, sodium cellulose phosphate ensures that the excess calcium cannot form a mass or stone. If patients are known to absorb too much calcium from their diet, it is likely to be a long-term problem. As sodium cellulose phosphate can be taken on a continuous basis, the medication can provide a suitable treatment for patients.

As well as being prescribed sodium cellulose phosphate, patients may be advised to moderate their diet so that calcium-rich foods are avoided. In addition to this, patients may be instructed to drink fluids at regular intervals. These lifestyle changes, along with the use of sodium cellulose phosphate, can help to ensure that patients do not suffer adverse consequences of hypercalcemia and that they do not develop calcium-containing kidney stones.


Last Reviewed:
February 01, 2018
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
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