Colestipol - a lipid-lowering medicine (Colestid)

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Take each sachet of colestipol granules mixed into at least 100 ml of liquid or soft food such as fruit juice, skimmed milk, soup, or yoghurt.

Avoid taking any other medicines at the same time as colestipol. Either take your other medicines one hour before colestipol, or wait until 4-6 hours afterwards.

The main side-effect of colestipol is constipation.

Type of medicineA bile acid binder (sequestrant)
Used forLowering cholesterol and other lipids
Also calledColestid®
Available asSachets of granules

Colestipol is available as sachets of granules which work in the body as a bile acid sequestrant. This means that it binds to bile acids in your digestive system. It prevents the bile acids from being recycled (reabsorbed) into your body. This action can be useful for people who have higher than normal levels of lipids in their blood.

Lipid is another word for fat. Cholesterol is a type of lipid. Lipids are easily stored in your body and serve as a source of energy. They are made naturally in your body from the food you eat. When the concentration of lipids in your blood is too high, it is called hyperlipidaemia. By taking colestipol, it prevents your bile acids from being reabsorbed and, as a consequence, your liver has to make more bile acids. It does this by using certain lipids from your blood. This lowers the amount of lipids in your blood and reduces your risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking colestipol it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about colestipol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the sachets exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to be prescribed one sachet to take once or twice each day to begin with. Depending upon your symptoms, your doctor may slowly increase the number of sachets until you are taking up to six sachets daily.
  • The granules from each sachet should be added to at least 100 ml of water. If you prefer, you can also mix colestipol with skimmed milk, soup, fruit juice, yoghurt or fruit smoothies. The granules do not dissolve well and can have a 'bitty' texture. You will notice this less if you mix the granules with soft foods rather than thin liquids, or alternatively if you prepare your dose a little in advance and allow it to stand for a while. Do not take the granules dry or without mixing them into about 100 ml of drink/food first. Colestipol sachets are also available pre-flavoured with orange and vanilla and with an artificial sweetener in a brand called Colestid® Orange.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Try to take the correct number of sachets each day, but do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You may need to have blood tests from time to time.
  • Avoid taking any other medicines at the same time as you take colestipol because it can stop the other medicines from being absorbed by your body. Either take your other medicines at least one hour before you take colestipol, or wait until 4-6 hours after taking colestipol before you take the other medicines. If you have any problems planning when to take your medicines, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • Treatment with colestipol is often long-term. Continue to take it unless you are advised otherwise.
  • Taking colestipol over a period of time may reduce your body's absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D and K) and folic acid. Your doctor may advise you to take a supplement containing these vitamins.
  • Your doctor may give you advice about lifestyle changes that could help you get the most out of your treatment. This may include reducing the amount of salt in your diet, stopping smoking, losing weight, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, and taking regular exercise. Following this advice will help you to reduce your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease in the future.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • If you buy any medicines 'over-the-counter', check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with colestipol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common colestipol side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
ConstipationTry to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day. If it becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Upset stomachStick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the granules, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Colestid® Orange; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
13852 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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