Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is prescribed to individuals suffering from a condition in which they have too much potassium in the blood, a condition which can cause severe problems with heart rhythm.

Overview:

Some individuals suffer from a condition in which they have too much potassium in the blood, which can cause severe problems with heart rhythm. For these individuals, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate can be prescribed to treat patients who have excessive levels of potassium in the blood, a condition that is also known as hyperkalemia. Patients who have high levels of potassium in their blood may experience problems with an irregular or unusual heartbeat or rhythm. Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate helps the body eliminate excess potassium in the bloodstream by attaching itself to the potassium that occurs in the patient’s digestive tract. Unlike other medications, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate goes directly into the patient’s intestine, before being absorbed into the bloodstream. This helps reduce the amount of potassium that is absorbed in the patient’s body.

This drug is provided in the form of either a liquid suspension, or in a powder form which the patient adds to a liquid such as water. This drug is prescribed for adults or children, and must be taken as prescribed. Patients should avoid trying to double doses, take more than is recommended, or take it more or less frequently than the doctor advises.

Patients taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may experience certain severe side effects which require the attention of a doctor. While undergoing treatment with Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, patients will be required to have regular follow-up visits, so the doctor can check for such side effects, and perform blood tests to check whether the medication is working properly.

Conditions Treated:

  • Hyperkalemia (Excess potassium in the bloodstream)

Type of Medicine:

  • Benzene, Diethenyl-Polymer

Side Effects:

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate has the potential to cause certain side effects which may or may not be serious. Not all side effects will occur for all patients. If, however, a patient experiences any such side effects, he or she should contact their doctor for medical advice.

In the case of certain side effects, patients should contact their doctor right away. These especially include some uncommon side effects, such as having an excessive thirst or dry mouth, vomiting blood, chest pain or severe abdominal or stomach pain. Other serious side effects are feeling tight in the chest, having trouble breathing or wheezing, or having an unusual cough which may or may not product mucus.

Some side effects mimic flu symptoms, such as sneezing, a sore throat, chills or fever. This may include feeling weak or tired, as well as a loss of appetite, or an unusual weight gain or loss.

Other side effects which require medical attention include any type of intestinal problem, such as unusual or severe constipation or diarrhea or decreased urine production.

Cramping may also be a side effect of Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. Severe cramps in the legs or feet, or hands, arms or face may be experienced. Similarly, any swelling of hands, fingers, toes, feet or legs may also need medical attention.

For some patients, there is a risk of overdosing with Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. Emergency medical attention should be sought immediately in the event of serious symptoms including feeling drowsy or fainting, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, having an irregular or fast heartbeat, a rapid or hammering pulse, experiencing any muscle spasms or cramps or having tremors or seizures.

Some patient may experience other side effects which are not listed here. Patients who find they are experiencing any other side effects should contact their doctor to discuss if additional medical attention is needed.

Patients may also contact the FDA to report any side effects, by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dosage:

Each patient taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may have different dosages of this medication, depending on the individual’s condition. It’s important to follow the doctor’s instructions exactly to take the correct dose. An individual dose will depend on how strong the medication is, how many times per day the doctor recommends taking it, and for how long the patient will be taking the drug.

For an adult patient, the average recommended dose is 15 grams (g), and is taken between one and four times each day, as directed by the doctor. In children patients, the dosage will depend on the specific blood levels of the child. A doctor will determine the correct dose based on blood tests. Infants should not be given this medication.
Patients should not take any other medications by mouth either three hours before or three hours after taking the sodium polystyrene sulfonate. In some cases, a doctor may recommend waiting up to six hours before or after, depending on the patient’s digestion.

Using either the liquid or the powder prepared in a fluid like syrup or water, the patient measures the correct dose using the cup provided with the product, or a special measuring spoon that is available at pharmacies. If the patient is using the powder, the doctor’s will explain how much powder to mix, and in how much liquid. The powder should be mixed right before the patient takes it, and once mixed, it should not be stored or taken later.

If the patient is taking the liquid form, he or she should shake the bottle well first, then using a marked cup or spoon for measuring, pour out the correct dose.

After taking the medication, patients should stay standing or sitting upright, and not lie down, for at least one hour after taking the medication. The doctor may provide additional details.
In case the patient misses a dose during their schedule, the patient can take the missed dose immediately after they remember. If it is near the time when the next dose would be taken, however, it is best to just skip the missed dose entirely, and take the next dose as normally scheduled. Patients should not take two doses together to “catch up” on their missed dose.

Major Drug Interactions:

Before using Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, patients should provide their doctor with complete medical histories, and include all medications and over the counter drugs the patient is taking. While sometimes medications should never be used together, it is possible the doctor may advise that this drug be used in conjunction with others even in the case of an interaction. A doctor may prescribe a modified dose or advise about other precautions that may arise.

For the medications listed below, it is important that the doctor be aware that the patient is taking them, in order to make any necessary changes to avoid side effects. These drugs are:

  • Sorbitol
  • Meloxicam

For the drugs listed below, while there is the potential for some undesirable side effects, the doctor may determine that it is still the best treatment to take both together. The doctor may make modifications to the patient’s dosages to account for possible side effects. These drugs are:

  • Aluminum Carbonate, Basic
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium
  • Aluminum Phosphate
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • Magaldrate
  • Dihydroxyaluminum Sodium Carbonate
  • Dihydroxyaluminum Aminoacetate
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Magnesium Oxide
  • Magnesium Trisilicate

Using Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate before a meal, or in conjunction with certain kinds of foods, may also cause in interaction. Patients should answer the doctor’s questions about diet to determine what is best for the individual. He or she should also inform their doctor of their alcohol or tobacco use while using this medication to avoid unwanted side effects.

Warnings:

Patients with certain other medical conditions may have problems using Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. There are potential additional side effects, or it is possible that the other condition the patient has could become worse when taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. Patients should always provide detailed medical history to their doctor to inform them of any other medical issues. The medical problems of most concern for patients taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate are the following:

  • Bowel blockage
  • Low potassium blood levels (hypokalemia) – should not be used
  • Severe congestive heart failure
  • Fluid retention (Edema)
  • Heart rhythm problems (such as an arrhythmia or a QT prolongation)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium in the blood)
  • Hypomagnesemia (low levels of magnesium in the blood)
  • Any type of stomach or bowel problems (such as colitis, constipation, bleeding, or perforation)— should be used with caution

When taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, the doctor will require follow up visits to check that the medication is having its expected effect. Adults and children will undergo blood tests on a regular basis to check any changes in potassium levels and to also confirm that there are no unwanted side effects.

For some patients, taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate may cause them to have hypokalemia, which is insufficient potassium in the blood. Possible symptoms of hypokalemia include dry mouth or becoming thirstier, becoming short of breath, having a feeling of confusion or agitation, irregular heartbeat. Patients may also experience unusual muscle cramps, or vomiting or nausea. For any of these symptoms, the patient should contact their doctor right away.

Patients who take any type of stomach antacid or a laxative which contains aluminum or magnesium-should discuss their use in combination with Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. There is a risk that such medications can prevent Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate from having its intended result of lowering potassium levels, and may also lead to severe side effects. A doctor can determine whether or if these medications can be taken together, and if any chance in dose or frequency is needed to prevent side effects.

Patients should discuss all other medications they are taking with their doctor prior to taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. This especially applies to any other prescription or over the counter (nonprescription) drugs, as well as vitamin supplements or herbal supplements. Patients should provide a full medical history including other medications, prior to taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate.

Storage:

For storage, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate in the liquid suspension form should be kept in the bottle with the cap tightly shut, at room temperature, and not in a location near any heat or direct light. For the powder form, this should also be kept in a tightly closed container, and it should be kept away from moisture, humidity or direct light, at room temperature.

This medication and all medications should be kept out of the reach of children.

This and any medication which has expired, or which is no longer needed, should be properly disposed of. A healthcare professional or law enforcement official can help suggest proper disposal methods.

Summary

Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate is used in the treatment of patients with excessive levels of potassium in their bloodstream, which can cause patients to experience irregular heartbeat and other heart problems. Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate helps reduce levels of potassium in the bloodstream by helping the body eliminate excess potassium.

For oral use of this medication, the drug comes in the form of either a powder or in a liquid suspension. For the powder, the patient mixes the drug with water immediately before taking. This medication is only available by prescription, for both adults and children. This drug should be taken as prescribed to avoid serious side effects. Patients should not double doses, or take more of the medication than is recommended, or take it more or less frequently than the doctor advises.

Patients taking Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate will need to have regular follow-up appointments with their doctor to check for potassium levels in the bloodstream, but also to check for unwanted side effects.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017