Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate (Rectal)

Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is used to treat hyperkalemia.


Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is used in the treatment of a condition called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia occurs when the levels of blood potassium are too high. The medication cannot cure the condition, but it does help to control and manage it.

This medication is available with a prescription from your doctor and is administered via an enema.

Condition(s) treated

  • hyperkalemia

Type of medicine

  • enema

Side effects

Although using sodium polystyrene sulfonate will help to control hyperkalemia, it is possible that you may experience a few side effects after receiving it. Prior to undergoing a sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema, be sure to inform your doctor if you have ever suffered from allergic reactions to this or any other form of medication.

If you do experience any of the following side effects, you should contact your nurse or doctor immediately. Although these effects occur only rarely, they can indicate a serious problem that may require further medical treatment:

  • wheezing
  • troubled breathing
  • tightness in the chest
  • sore throat
  • sneezing
  • shortness of breath
  • severe stomach pain
  • fever or chills
  • difficulty with breathing
  • cough producing mucus
  • cough
  • chest pain
  • bloody vomit

The following side effects have occasionally been reported by patients who have undergone treatment with a sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema. If you notice any of these side effects, you should notify your doctor or a member of your medical team.

  • weight loss
  • weight gain
  • troubled breathing, even when resting
  • tremors
  • swelling of the extremities or lower legs
  • severe constipation
  • numbness and tingling around the fingertips, mouth, or feet
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • nausea or vomiting
  • muscle cramps in the extremities or face
  • loss of appetite
  • irregular heartbeat
  • increased thirst
  • feelings of unusual tiredness or weakness
  • dry mouth
  • diarrhea
  • decreased urine output
  • convulsions
  • constipation
  • confusion
  • abdominal or stomach pain or cramps

Overdose with a sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema is very rare. However, if you experience any of the following effects, this could be due to a miscalculation of the dose, resulting in overdose. In this case, you should call 911 immediately:

  • trembling
  • seizures
  • rapid or pounding pulse
  • muscle cramps, twitching, or spasms
  • lightheadedness
  • fast, irregular, or slow
  • fainting
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness

This list of side effects is not necessarily all inclusive. If you experience any other unusual or unexplained effects or notice a change in your behavior or mood, talk to your doctor or specialist.


You will usually be given your sodium polystyrene sulfonate rectal enema by a nurse or other healthcare professional in a clinic or hospital. If the medication is to be administered at home, be sure to study the product instructions and follow your doctor's directions carefully, before using the product.

Shake the bottle thoroughly to ensure that the solution is well-mixed. You may find it more comfortable if you warm up the solution until it reaches body temperature. Be careful not to overheat the medication, as this could affect its efficacy.

Follow the instructions for administering a cleansing enema, and repeat the procedure every six hours as required. To gain the most benefit from the treatment, try to retain the enema in your rectum for a few hours. Following your sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema, you should use a non-sodium-container, as directed by your doctor.

The duration of treatment and the dosage of this medication are determined by your doctor, based on your condition and your body's response to the treatment. Do not use more of the medication than prescribed or use it for a longer period than directed. To do so could cause your blood potassium level to fall too low.

Major drug interactions

Some forms of medication should not be used in tandem. However, sometimes certain forms of medication can be used safely together, even if an interaction does occur. If this applies in your case, your doctor may have to adjust the dose of one or more of your prescribed medicines, or may give you some advice on how to avoid and prevent side effects.

If possible, you should not use sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema with Meloxicam or Sorbitol.

Some medication should not be used around mealtimes or when eating particular types of foodstuffs, as this can cause an interaction to take place. Similarly, using tobacco or consuming alcohol with some drugs can cause an interaction. Be sure to discuss with your doctor or nurse the implications of using your medication with tobacco, alcohol and different foods.


Tell your doctor if you have ever experienced any allergic reactions to any form of prescription or non-prescription medication, including herbal remedies and vitamin supplements. You should also tell them about any allergies you have to preservatives, foods, animal derivatives and dyes.

In order for your doctor to be sure that this medication is working correctly, you will need to attend for regular check ups. Your doctor may also ask for blood tests to be carried out, in order to check for any unwanted effects.

Some existing or historical medication conditions can affect how your sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema works. Always discuss your medical history fully, before undergoing this procedure.

If you have a history of hyperkalemia or bowel blockage, you should not undergo a sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema.

Sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas should be used with extreme caution in patients who have a history of severe heart failure, fluid retention (edema), arrhythmia, QT prolongation, or other heart rhythm problems. This medication can exacerbate these conditions.

Extreme caution should also be taken when using sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas in people who have low levels of hypocalcemia or hypomagnesemia, and in patients who have a history of constipation, rectal bleeding, perforation, colitis, bowel problems and stomach ulcers. This drug can make these conditions worse.

You should contact your doctor straight away if you suffer any of the following symptoms, which could be indicative of hypokalemia:

  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • muscle cramps
  • irritability
  • irregular heartbeat
  • increased thirst
  • dry mouth
  • confusion

Any medicines that contain aluminium, laxatives, or antacids containing magnesium can affect the efficacy of sodium polystyrene sulfonate and could also increase the likelihood of serious side effects.

Never take any other forms of medicine unless you have discussed them with your doctor first, including prescription, non-prescription products, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies.

There is no evidence to suggest that using sodium polystyrene sulfonate can pose a risk to the unborn baby. However, if you are pregnant, or if you are planning on becoming pregnant during the course of your treatment, you should discuss with your treating physician the risks and benefits of using this drug to control existing medical conditions.

It is not known if the drug can pass into breast milk. With this in mind, you may prefer not to breastfeed your infant during the course of your treatment with sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas. Ask your doctor or midwife for advice on a suitable baby formula that you could use until your course of treatment has finished.


If you have to undergo sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas on a regular basis to help control your condition, your doctor may be happy for you to carry out the procedure at home. In addition, if you live in a remote location, your health visitor may administer the enema for you. In these cases, you will need to keep a small supply of sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema in your home.

Always keep sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas at room temperature. Do not place the bottle in the fridge or freezer. Do not expose the container to direct sunlight or to sources of extreme heat.

Keep sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas out of reach of children and pets. In the event that a pet consumes your medication, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do not keep any leftover sodium polystyrene sulfonate that you do not need or use a supply of the drug that has become out of date. Do not pour unwanted sodium polystyrene sulfonate enemas down the toilet or the drain. Do not throw any unused enema solution out with your garbage, where it could present a danger to small children and pets. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on how to safely dispose of unused or unwanted medication.


Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is used in the treatment of a condition called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia occurs when the levels of blood potassium are too high. The medication cannot cure the condition, but it does help to control and manage it.

There are a number of unwanted side effects and drug interactions that can occur in some people following administration of a sodium polystyrene sulfonate enema. The drug should not be used by people who have a history of low blood potassium, stomach or bowel diseases.

Sodium polystyrene sulfonate works by helping to regulate the levels of potassium in your body. You will need to attend regular checks with your doctor or specialist for the duration of your treatment, together with blood tests to ensure that the drug is working as it should be.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 03, 2018