Questran (cholestyramine) is a drug which absorbs bile acids in the intestines. There are two forms of Questran: the standard form, which contains cholestyramine and sucrose, and Questran Light, which contains cholestyramine and aspartame (aspartame is an artificial sweetener). It's worth noting that artificial sweeteners can cause gastrointestinal symptoms in some people, including diarrhea, and some IBS sufferers may be sensitive to the aspartame in Questran Light.
Questran is used to treat diarrhea, as excess bile acid in the intestines can lead to loose stools. In particular, patients who have had their gallbladders removed may find that they have bile-related diarrhea, as bile is normally stored in the gallbladder. Questran comes in powder form and is mixed with water or another liquid before swallowing. Some Questran users have reported problems with the absorption of vitamins when taking Questran, so please follow medical advice carefully.
Questran side effects
The most common side effects of Questran are constipation, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, belching and excessive gas.
REVIEWS OF QUESTRAN
Review by Mary
Try the stuff - you've got nothing to lose! The synopsis of my sad story, so much of which I have read and re-read in these posts: I had no problems with my guts as a kid. I had two big babies (over eight pounds each - I was five foot two and weighed about 105 pounds) and two ectopic pregnancies and in about 1986 I had an emergency surgery that removed 'about 46 inches' of my intestines. (I don't know exactly, they may have said four foot six inches, I was post-surgery and I remember very little.) Beyond this little piece of information about the surgery I knew nothing.
They sent me home and I had a two-week follow-up to check the incision. The doc said I would be fine but gave me no real information. I had already started experiencing...not diarrhea, but extremely painful bowel contractions every time I had anything in me. Felt like labor pain. I assumed it was 'just scar tissue', as nothing else was offered as an explanation, and went about my life - which began to become curtailed with diarrhea, explosive, no warning stuff, and sometimes a dumping syndrome that would completely exhaust me.
I began to plan my life around restroom availability. I was a sales rep in a large area - I know where every decent rest stop is and I know how close to the door of a restaurant the restrooms are - pretty pathetic). If I didn't know for sure, I didn't eat. Anything. Then the accidents began: the first one was a complete shock and so embarrassing - standing at a gas pump and all of a sudden...well, you know the story.
So that was when I began taking extra clothes with me and I became very cautious about traveling - but that was my job! It was a terrifying and humiliating place to be...A few years later I did some short-term mission work in Russia. I ate practically nothing. I had one bout while we were on a bus somewhere in Ukraine. A horrible, shaming memory...
On a trip to Israel I ate practically nothing. It's not easy to go look at ruins, even if you have a great interest in the history, if you're not sure there will be a bathroom. Mostly okay, but when you don't eat, you don't have much energy...by this time I am dealing with depression, too...
I was so ashamed of the situation I told no-one, unless I had to...you know, when you have to say 'Umm...I might really need to go to the restroom quickly...I'm not sure yet...I'm sorry. Please tell me every time an exit comes up.' (I don't know about the rest of you, but I cannot 'force' a bowel movement. If it ain't ready, it ain't happening. Period. (Sigh.)
On a trip to France, the food capital of the world, I ate practically nothing but I still had a bout while we were visiting an 800 year-old village. I'll bet you can guess what the restrooms might have been like but I was just glad there was one...and then I probably looked like a stalker because I hung around outside the facility for the rest of the time we were there.
I work as a chaplain in a jail; not a lot of available potties in a jail and all doors are locked. Most days I have eaten practically nothing. I am so tired all the time. I always avoid morning appointments. People may have thought I was lazy but I wasn't willing to risk going out of the house before I had given my guts every chance possible to get rid of anything that was in there and this could take hours...
Finally in February 2014 I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy (my second set; everything was 'normal') and for some odd reason I was looking at the photos (I know, yuck...but I read everything) and I read a phrase in the caption of one of the photos: 'Anastomosis, side to side, surgical changes, colon-terminal ileum'. Aha! A possible clue! I punched that into the search engine and here I am on Questran. I am doing much better now. It's still too early for me to say it's a miracle drug but I'd say I have been more than pleasantly surprised.
I am highly uneasy about being constipated as I get a migraine almost immediately if I get constipated and I am still fearful of having a blockage again, so even though my doc has prescribed two packets a day (yuck!) which I took for two days, I cannot take that much now. I get gassy and feel constipated (and I drink a lot of water anyway).
I empty the packets into a jar. I take one heaping teaspoonful in the morning with warm jello-water (the gelatin is very helpful to me and it disguises the grit a little bit) made with a heaping teaspoon of jello and about 2oz hot water. I stir it up and let it sit until it cools a bit. I mix the Questran with some warm water (the globules just will not go down my throat) and pour that into the jello water, stir it up and down it. It's not too bad, actually. I tried it cold with juices and I just could not get it down without the gag reflex problem. I have another heaping teaspoon in the same manner at night.
I've been so desperate for answers that I even downloaded a program onto my phone to track this situation to see if I could determine triggers or find anything that would help. I think it's called Bowel Mover Pro which I find only moderately amusing. I'm tracking my movement and since 13 February 2014 I have had more normal poos than I have had in almost 30 years. I have even eaten out and had some of the most dangerous foods for me, like a salad and some pasta with marinara sauce. I did okay! Praise the Lord!
The rest of the stuff I am self-modulating because the doc basically rolls his eyes at me and I'm at the point where I don't really care. I take about 5000 units of vitamin D3 every day, lots of Cal-Mag and lots of vitamin C along with a standard multivitamin. I am considering nagging him to give me B shots but because I am doing, in general, so much better right now I'm not going to rush it.
I also concentrate on getting things like natural pectin and gelatins into me because they seem to help me somehow. I take Lactaid sometimes, even though I don't have a lactose intolerance, as I am obviously lacking some of the enzymes somewhere. I take papaya once in a while, particularly if I am going to have red meat for dinner. I carry these things with me in a small vial, along with a medicine I have been prescribed for urgency control, hyoscyamine sulfate, which I have not had to take even one time! I eat yogurt once or twice a week. Probiotic tablets are available but I'd rather not if I don't have to...I hate to swallow pills. I'm just sticking with the yogurt for now. So I am going to sign off with my new slogan: 'I love normal poos!'.
Review by Diane
Twenty-two years ago I had a hysterectomy for ovarian cancer, with a second-look operation to check for any leftover cancer. Thirteen years later I had a small bowel resection, with the valve between the small and large intestine removed due to a complete blockage caused by adhesions from those operations. Nobody told me I would end up with constant diarrhea after that, although the gastroenterologist did prescribe Questran. I hated it and didn't take it.
I had been diagnosed with IBS years before that, as were my mother and sister, so I was used to having diarrhea, but I was horrified when I was caught in a Washington DC mall unable to make it to the bathroom! That had never happened to me before. For years I lived on six Imodium a day but they didn't really work. The doctor even tried me on Creon but that only helped a little bit. I changed gastroenterologists, because the first one was too far away, and the new doctor (after several tests etc) put me on Questran again. At that point I was willing to try anything.
My first prescription was for non-generic Questran, and it worked pretty well, but after that they gave me the generic light version and that did not work as well. Since I'm lactose intolerant they should have known better than to give me something with artificial sweetener in it! The regular kind doesn't have that many calories in it anyway. The doctor changed my prescription to the non-generic and that has helped a lot. Unfortunately I still go anywhere from three to eight times a day and I'm still afraid to go anywhere since I don't have time to make it to the bathroom if I'm not right near one.
This has changed my life terribly! I can no longer go visit my children or other relatives because there is no way I can take the chance of not being able to get into a bathroom on a plane. We have been trying to find a motor home that's small enough I can drive it, with a decent-size bathroom, but so far, no used ones have shown up. It's awful to have to life this way, as everyone else knows.
Review by Doug
I have had off/on problems with IBS for years, and then 10 years ago I had my gallbladder out. Shortly thereafter I experienced severe diarrhea for months. Finally I was put on Colestid which helped a lot. Eventually I stopped it. After a colonoscopy that said I had ulcerative colitis (later debunked at Mayos) I was on Asacol. Finally I went to the Mayo clinic where they found I had carcinoids, although they weren't affecting my diarrhea yet. I had one foot of intestines removed, the portion that absorbs bile acids.
Long story short, after Mayo and further follow-up colonoscopies elsewhere, a doctor I was seeing for foot pain put me on cholestyramine and Metamucil. What a change. I was no longer disabled from the pain and chronic, urgent diarrhea. It seems some of those GI guys would have looked at my history and said, 'OK, the gallbladder is gone and bile is constantly dumped into the intestines, and then he can't absorb the bile. Hmm.'
Anyway, I am doing great and found that going gluten-free (which means I eliminate a lot of sugar via cakes etc) helps me even more. I am wondering how to reduce the gas cholestyramine and Metamucil cause. I am trying to lower the dose of each and spread them out, but would Maalox or more water when consuming them help?
Review by Kristen
I was diagnosed with IBS after I got my gallbladder out. I lost three dress sizes due to this disease. I am so glad I found this site. I am on Questran for it and it works. It's a powder that I take in the morning with food. I add it to 120ml of water. It looks like foam and tastes like chalk but I have my life back!
Review by Angela
As I sit here reading the personal stories of strangers, I realize that we all have something in common - an embarrassing and debilitating problem. Chronic D is no fun, it's time-consuming and a general annoyance to deal with. To always be worried about where a bathroom is. To be constantly worried about eating because I never know if this time I will have a bad reaction. It was interesting to read so many other people who said the same thing - will this food make me run to the nearest restroom? What an awful way to live our lives.
I had my gallbladder removed in the fall of 2009. I was told to expect D for about three to six months. Well, 18 months later it was still going on and I was told dumping syndrome may be the cause. I continued to do some research, finding the Questran information. Since I do have elevated (not high) cholesterol, I approached my PCP and asked her if I could try this medication for the chronic D. She wrote me a script for it and I filled it the next day.
I tried it the day after and noticed immediate improvement! Wow - it's great to not worry anymore about where the nearest bathroom is. I am still playing with my dosage a bit because I don't want to become constipated. I'm trying a two-day on one-day off trial. It seems to be working out all right. It's not horrible tasting. A little gritty, but not too bad. I just wanted to say, hang in there!
Review by Tracy
I've been on Questran for just over a month now and I'm down to taking one sachet a day. Wow...brilliant stuff. But I've got a couple of problems. One is that the absorption of my other medication doesn't seem to be working as well even though I take it well before taking Questran. And the other problem I've found is that I've put quite a few pounds on in such a short time. Is this due to medication? Has anyone else had this problem? I was thinking of asking my GP to change over to Questran Light. Maybe this will help.
Review by Tracy
I was diagnosed with IBS after having my gallbladder out. I wasn't told anything about this chronic diarrhea lark. I've suffered on and off since 2002. Consultants are very quick to say "Oh it's IBS" and send you away saying there's nothing they can do...and give you lansoprazole to control the acid, but why don't they see this problem and that it's not just typical IBS?
I've had camera tests and consultations to no avail, so I decided to do my own research and that's when I came across this website and read all the reviews about others who have all gone through a similar experience to myself. I immediately approached my GP who was great. She agreed about trying Questran and I've been on it now for two weeks. The first week was a bit iffy. I still had good days and bad days and I was initially disappointed as I was so desperate for a result.
And now in the second week I've been clear of any accidents or severe bouts of diarrhea. I'm still very wary every day, I've lost all my confidence in my bowels and venturing outside was just about impossible. I would send my daughter on errands. Now after five weeks off work it's looking like there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm looking to change my job though to lessen the stress that I was under as this only added to my problems. I was out driving all day, and scared constantly of not being able to find a loo quickly after being caught short on a number of occasions.
It's so embarrassing and debilitating to one's mind and soul to have to go through this. No-one seems to understand how restricting this illness is and how it can ruin your life. I was just about to give up and claim sickness benefit, resigned to the fact that I would never be back working again. Fingers crossed now there's hope, as I look for part-time work again.
Review by Curtis
I had my gallbladder removed at 23 years old. After the surgery everything seemed to be good to go for about a year. I especially enjoyed getting rid of the horrible pains I had before the gallbladder was removed. After a year I started having some occasional problems with diarrhea and started visiting the doctor. I ended up having multiple blood tests, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy to look for the cause of the diarrhea. Of course after all of these tests the doctor found nothing and said "You have IBS and there's no cure".
I tried changing my diet, no lactose, no heavy or fatty foods, no gluten, and nothing worked. I was pretty destroyed and followed up by taking loads of Imodium to keep me going through days where I knew I couldn't get to the bathroom on demand. Even with the Imodium I still felt uncomfortable throughout the day, though I would have relatively normal bowel movements when taking the meds.
Finally I did a little research online and found that someone else had used Questran. I ended up going back to the doctor and asking him about Questran and he hesitantly wrote me a prescription and added another prescription for cramps (which I have never taken). I started taking four grams of Questran daily two months ago and it has really helped. I still have about four bowel movements a day but no cramps or urgency. If I don't take the medicine for a day the diarrhea comes back by the next day.
My doctor has never said anything about taking vitamins so I am glad I found this website so that I can get started and maybe talk to my primary care doctor now that I am done with the gastro. I would definitely recommend trying Questran if you are having similar issues. I am still hoping for a permanent solution other then taking medicines but this works for now!
Review by Beth
For the last 10 years I suffered from IBS. I finally reached the point where I was afraid to eat. Most things made me sick and caused a lot of pain. I have been taking Questran for three months and finally can eat almost anything. There are still a few foods that make me sick but not nearly as many. Questran changed my life!
Review by Deb
I was diagnosed with IBS-D about 15 years ago. Like many others my doctor at the time told me there was no cure and to change my diet and eat more fiber. So for 15 years I kept my little secret to myself and told no-one including my husband because I felt it was too embarrassing and I could manage it. Sadly I never did manage it but I did a very good job hiding it. When we went on vacations I would avoid eating or make sure a bathroom was close by.
The one issue I have with IBS-D is it's unpredictable so I could eat and be fine for several hours or even the next day or the diarrhea could start immediately after. If it was predictable than I could manage it a little better. I could never tell if certain foods were the problem either. I think it's pretty much all foods.
I went to my doctor one year ago to ask if there were any new medications or help for IBS-D since it had been several years. He asked me about my history and if I had had my gallbladder removed. I said yes, about 15 years ago, around the same time I developed IBS-D. Honestly I can't remember if the IBS-D started before or after the gallbladder was removed, but it was very close to the same time.
The doctor prescribed cholestyramine, said it would help with people who had had their gallbladder removed, and told me to make an appointment to go through further tests. I was disappointed again because I thought he was just trying to give me something so my visit wasn't a waste of time. I got the prescription filled but left two boxes in my pantry and never took it until now (one year later). I never bothered to do research on the internet either.
Just recently we planned a vacation and I always panic when we do so I decided to do research on cholestyramine and IBS, and I found this very informative website. So I thought maybe I will try it. It's been two weeks. My first week was during my vacation and I did fine the first few days but on the last part of vacation I had diarrhea, but I also missed the two previous days of taking cholestyramine. I continued to take it and now I'm on my second week.
I also decided to take Caltrate 600+D so I'm not sure if it's one or the other or the combination that is working for me, but for the first time in 15 years I actually have a normal BM. I'm even a little on the constipated side but I will reduce my dose to one packet a day and see what happens. I realize it's too early to tell but if this works it's a miracle. I will also kick myself for not starting a year ago and for not researching on the internet. I will keep you posted but thank you for this site and everyone who is sharing this information. I feel bad for not trusting my doctor.
Review by Diana
I have had IBS with diarrhea for as long as I can remember. When I had my gallbladder removed in 2008 it got so much worse. About a month ago my doctor put me on Questran. I also have high cholesterol so we figured we could kill two birds with one stone.
It took a little while to get into my system but it has changed my life! I can actually go out to eat now without worrying that I will get a pain and have to run. Last week I had my first week without diarrhea! I was thrilled and hope that this isn't too good to be true.
I mix my Questran with some really cold water and some apple sauce, and this makes it tolerable to take. I must say that the taste is nasty and I worry that it will ruin my teeth but if it keeps my stomach in check I will gladly trade my teeth for it. Not that I don't love my teeth, but I love having my life back much more. I'm the type of person who has side effects from just about every medicine but so far this has not given me any.
Review by Gwen
My IBS was diagnosed when I was in my 20's, and I was treated on and off with anti-depressants, Bentyl, Donnatal and Imodium. Then last summer I had such pain that I thought it was a heart attack. My gallbladder was removed, and then I had another painful attack: I had sphincter of oddi dysfunction for which they placed stents in the ducts. I had another pain attack after that, which was relieved by pain meds only, and then no more pain attacks. The diarrhea never stopped, with accidents weekly.
I was ready to file for disability when my primary doctor prescribed Questran. I had relief right away, that very day, and I have been able to have a normal life since. I had been on a very restrictive diet for years, but I can now eat whatever I want, even whole grains. I also have high blood pressure and diabetes, so the diet business was really fun.
Questran has given me a normal life. I have four or five stools a day, but not loose, and mild urgency, not severe; and no accidents. I take it at night, and I take my pills and vitamins in the morning. Juice is a trigger for my IBS-D, so I take it in water.
Review by D
Thanks to this medication I am living a more normal life...out of the restroom. I still have flares but not on a daily basis. I am very happy with the medication I am taking.
Review by Barbara
Eight years ago I went to the doctor with problem diarrhea. He immediately said gallbladder problems and ordered an ultrasound. I was never told the results of the test, but my gallbladder was removed after a colonoscopy etc. Diarrhea became my constant friend. You have no life, and can never guarantee meeting a friend for lunch. You actually are a prisoner in your own home.
Then I had a hip replacement, was gifted with an infection in the hospital, ended up with a fistula and had to have 18 inches of my colon removed in 2004. My colon is fine, and I had surgery at the renowned Cleveland Clinic. Then back to the constant diarrhea.
On this website one month ago I found these posts. One night about 1:00am, lying in bed with cramps, I wondered to myself if I had ever searched for 'gallbladder removal and diarrhea'. Got up and came down to the computer and entered those words. An answer to many prayers came through this website.
My new family doctor has been wonderful, and learned by checking the hospital records that nothing was wrong with my gallbladder at all. I called and asked if she would prescribe Questran without my coming in. She did. Immediately I had relief. I am still trying to come to the right dosage as I deal with a little constipation (cheer, cheer...a wonderful problem now). I think I will end up with half a scoop a day. I am now 72 and active.
Thank you to all the folks who have taken the time to post, which is why I am doing so. Too many doctors think it is you...and actually I was becoming a head case because of needing a bathroom so quickly. And yes, like many others, I knew every clean restroom in town. Wow! You all are wonderful to be so honest and open for those of us suffering with this. Again, thank you.
Review by C
I was taking Questran for IBS (I have no gallbladder either). For about a month I was a lot better, but then I noticed I was having more bowel movements each day which finally turned into severe diarrhea, worse than before. Now I have diarrhea every morning, and I wonder if the Questran caused this?
Review by Dee
I have had IBS for about 10 years now, and until recently my problem had got so much worse that I had accidents all day every day. I went to a colon doctor and I needed to have surgery. Well let's just say that I've had eight surgeries within the past year due to complications. My episodes were so bad that I had no life, couldn't leave my house, and cried all the time because I wasn't getting better and I felt so embarrassed. I had no life. I was out of work for a total of 13 months.
My gastro doctored ordered a small bowel series test and found out that the food/drink travels to my small intestines within 15 minutes, and the normal timeframe is four to six hours. I was given cholestyramine which has been a miracle drug for me. I take one packet daily in the morning (mix it with pulp orange juice and you don't even taste the powder). It caused me to be somewhat regular.
I'm able to return to work and have a normal life. I still have times were I have attacks in which I need to take other meds, but I'm alive and free again. I was not aware that you lose vitamins etc so I have started to take a daily vitamin. If you are reading this, you will see that you are not alone and it will get better.
Review by FP
I have had colitis for many years, but three years ago I had my gallbladder removed, causing bile duct dumping which was very unpleasant. My doc prescribed Questran, far too much of it, but the pharmacist suggested a variety of solutions and we eventually got the dose just right. This was a Godsend, and I was back to work.
The pharmacist suggested a vitamin as Questran can block the absorption of vitamins. Well I have recently been told to stop taking Questran immediately as I have serious depletions of essential vitamins and minerals, causing bone and tissue breakdown, and now have a whole new issue.
I was really pleased to have found Questran, but I wanted to write a caution to the unsuspecting out there. This stuff works a treat in the correct dose which may take some dickering, but for heaven's sake take medical advice about the vitamin issue. I would have given this five stars, had the product mentioned in its instructions that it can cause such big deficiencies.
Review by Ighanda
My doctor prescribed Questran for me after a gallbladder removal and it has helped tremendously with chronic diarrhea that I was having that had me feeling almost suicidal. Every now and then, I may have a single bout of diarrhea but nothing even remotely close to what I was experiencing before being introduced to Questran. I call it my little blessing in a pack.
What concerns me is that the doctors don't just prescribe it to you even though you've had your gallbladder removed and they know that that can eventually lead to chronic diarrhea. You have to (well I had to) ask for it. They treat IBS sufferers as if they have a psychological problem and it seems like they prefer not to even deal with you. It's not fair to the sufferers because what we go through on a daily basis is nothing short of pure hell, but I thank God for my knowledge and wisdom to start searching for answers on the internet.
Review by Al
I have suffered with IBS-diarrhea and flushing for five years and consulted with eight doctors, including two who were IBS specialists, without any help. Then I decided to switch family doctors and on my first visit he asked if I was taking or had ever heard of Questran. I told him that I wasn't taking it and had never heard of it. The doctor couldn't believe that the other specialists hadn't prescribed it for me.
I then purchased Questran, and I had nearly immediate results using this wonderful product. I started taking one level scoopful at 10am daily for 10 days, and the dose was too strong (it caused some constipation), so I lowered the dosage to half a scoopful and the results were a Godsend.
I just had a follow-up with my doctor and he told me to continue taking the half scoopful of Questran. This dosage works great for me and I don't get constipated either. Just normal bowel movements and no diarrhea.
My diarrhea had consumed my life, restricting me in where I could go, and I always had to have immediate access to a bathroom. Years and years of misery, always wondering when my diarrhea would strike and where I would be and if I would have access to a bathroom for hours. My diarrhea would last from two to four hours and I would have to go every ten minutes or so.
It was terrible and prevented me from going nearly anywhere. If I went into a store I would ask where the bathrooms were, as I never knew when or where my diarrhea would strike, and when it did I only had 30 seconds warning.
My life is normal again and I owe it to God and Questran. I don't have diarrhea anymore and I now know when I'm going to have a bowel movement. I can even wait for an hour as it doesn't creep up on me like it used to. It has made me a new person, I can go anywhere and relax.
I am 63 and a 100% service-connected disabled marine. I also have heart problems, COPD, arteriosclerosis, renal cell carcinoma (right kidney removed for cancer) and my gallbladder removed and Questran had no side effects on me. Except it lowers my cholesterol...I feel the best that I have in years. I checked with my kidney and heart doctor before taking this medicine and they gave me their approval to take it and I thank God that I did. It works and has taken a huge burden off of me and made me feel whole again.
Review by Carolyn
I have been suffering from diarrhea since I was 18 years old. It started not long after I was prescribed a pretty nasty antibiotic, and the doctor at the time told me to eat yogurt and I would be OK. Later that year I went to a gastroenterologist who basically gave me a lower colonoscopy and told me all was OK and that I should see a psychologist as it was obviously all in my head. After that, I gave up trying to get help.
I suffered with the condition, which got worse and worse at the age of around 33 following a particularly stressful time, for over 20 years. Explosive diarrhea, particularly after eating, weekly (at least) accidents, planning my routes according to where I knew public toilets were, being too scared to leave home on numerous occasions, wearing sanitary pads just in case, not eating at all during the day, going through packets and packets of Imodium each week etc etc, until I just couldn't do it any more. I finally decided, at age 39, that I was going to go back to a doctor, and not give up until I had an answer.
I ended up being referred to a new gastroenterologist, who immediately did a full colonoscopy. I remember sobbing and sobbing when he told me it was clear! I was so disappointed that I didn't have an answer. We then started a food diary, to no avail. There was no pattern, except that it usually happened within 15 to 30 minutes of eating anything - and accidents were getting more and more common.
It was then he suggested Questran. I remember the first day I took it, I took my kids to the beach to have fish and chips, and made sure that we were right next to the public loo for when the inevitable explosion occurred. I remember looking nervously at the loo, hoping that it was empty when I needed it, waiting...waiting...waiting...and nothing happened! On day one of taking Questran, it had an effect!
I have now been taking Questran for over three years, and it is my lifesaver! I don't mind taking it one bit - it isn't the most pleasant experience, but it has given me my life back.
One big thing here is that I am one of the few who hasn't had a gallbladder removal! It just happened. So, if you are reading this and you are thinking you don't fit the bill because you still have your gallbladder, think again. It can happen to anyone!
Review by Bob
I have experienced progressively worsening IBS-diarrhea for several years. It started after I had 16 feet of my terminal small intestine removed along with six feet of my colon and the valve between the two, due to blockage caused by 20+ years of Crohn's disease. Like others on this site I found Questran taken first thing in the morning to be helpful but not totally successful.
My secretary saw an ad for Digestive Advantage Crohn's Formula and sent for a free sample. It's an over-the-counter probiotic containing lactobacillus and s. boulardii cultures. Used with the Questran (Digestive Advantage taken a minimum of one hour later) it has totally cured me. When I told my doctor about it I found that he now prescribes the s. boulardii culture from 250-1000mg daily for IBS. I'm only taking 80mg per day (two Digestive Advantage pills). I first tried the Digestive Advantage IBS formula with only the lactobacillus and it only helped a little.
Review by Mary
Through trial and error over the last 34 years of using Questran I have discovered that mixing it into my morning dose of orange-flavored Metamucil solves both of the problems that I encountered with this medication: the taste, and the constipation.
A gastroenterologist diagnosed me with IBS at age 18, and I then had my gallbladder removed at age 26 due to stones. The cycles of severe diarrhea and constipation that occurred before my gallbladder was removed were a picnic, compared to the diarrhea and abdominal cramping and pain I experienced after the surgery. A glass of water would bring on immediate diarrhea, and I had many episodes of incontinence. Questran is the only medication I have ever used for this problem and it has worked great.
Review by Michele
I had my cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) in 1973, and have been on Questran since! I usually make up eight to 10 doses at a time and keep it in the refrigerator. I carry a small water bottle of medicine with me on every outing and to work.
I take it four times per day or I run to the bathroom as soon as any food enters my mouth. I have tried avoiding certain foods, but nothing changes. Salads and fresh veggies for diets, forget it. If I do not take it or forget the medicine, forget leaving home. It is a public embarrassment, to say the least.
But I have learned over the last two years that Imodium and Questran work very well together: the Questran absorbs the excess fluid, and the Imodium slows down the contractions of your colon. I usually take two Imodium in the morning along with a few slugs of the previously prepared medicine, which holds me for about four hours.
If we plan on eating out, drinking wine or having a beer, I have to prepare all day, taking two Imodium and about eight swigs of Questran four or five times from early in the day, right up to the time we leave to go to the restaurant. Five out of 10 times it helps for many hours, and sometimes overnight depending on the restaurant.
And now the topper - I refilled today, and the price has doubled for one can of Questran, since August, but I cannot go without it...and the doctors say there is nothing else like it out there...figures...
Review by FP
I am not finding Questran to be a lifesaver, but it certainly helps. My doctor didn't tell me about the possible after-effects of the cholecystectomy. I had to soldier through a couple of bouts of incontinence before he recommended Questran, and he suggested I take a scoop with every meal or snack. That created a real reversal of the situation, not of the pleasant kind. After consulting with the pharmacist we got a reasonable dose sorted and she suggested cutting back slowly and adding more fiber, as Questran depletes the body of some essential nutrients, which can have their own serious consequences.
This worked well and I eventually was off Questran and on lots and lots of fiber. But IBS being what it is the pendulum swung the other way and I was majorly sick again, and back on the Questran. Again, I was looking for the right dose and no longer capable of holding my job, so I have not had a miracle, but a bit of a reprieve is always welcome. On good days I can venture into the pool again, with caution.
This is good stuff, and much less intrusive than most prescribed meds, anybody with this kind of issue should seriously look into the resins (cholestyramine) before the rest, just remember to talk to the pharmacist and get the info the doctors always forget to tell you.
Review by Nicola
I had my gallbladder removed five years ago. Immediately afterwards I started to get urgent diarrhea. I then spent around two years relying on loperamide and not going anywhere that didn't have a public toilet within dashing distance. I eventually had a sigmoidoscopy and I was then prescribed Questran...blessed relief! I simply couldn't do without those marvelous little sachets.
Review by Sarah
I have had 'rot gut' (IBS) for as long as I can remember. Having taken every pill known to man, having every test from a barium study to four scopes - upper and lower, and everything in between - eventually I was encouraged to have my gallbladder out. My pain has gone away, but the rot gut has gotten 10 times worse: bloating, diarrhea, excess bile, etc. I have no life. I cannot go anywhere without running to the bathroom. I have had what I call bile-o-rrhea ever since getting my gallbladder out.
Then...my doctor gave me Questran. Yes, it is not the easiest thing to drink, I still have not found the perfect cocktail, but thank the Lord...it works! I was told to take it twice a day, but I only take it once. It helps so much that I don't think I could ever live without it. If you have bile-o-rrhea like many of us do since giving your gallbladder the old heave-ho, you have to ask your doc for this. After reading the other testimonies, I finally feel that I am not the only one (I truly thought I was). And it helps with my high cholesterol also! A double whammy!
Review by Valerie
I had my gallbladder out in 1993 and immediately afterward I started with the yellow diarrhea. I didn't get relief until a doctor gave me Questran. Instant relief! Now, I can't get the brand name Questran and I have to take generic cholestyramine by Pharma Science, but it has been working well enough. Although if the pharmacy runs out of the regular version and replaces it with the light version, I will get really sick all over again. Or sometimes even a box or two will not work for some strange reason, and if I exchange it for another box with a different lot number and expiry date, it will work for me. I can't imagine living without it, I am so grateful that it is available.
Review by Marie
I had gallbladder surgery approximately 15 years ago, and my doctor assured me that it wouldn't make any difference. He said the gallbladder was not necessary. About three months after the surgery this chronic diarrhea hit me at the most embarrassing moment.
When I couldn't get it under control I went to another doctor who said the diarrhea was a common problem after gallbladder surgery. I've been taking the generic powder of Questran for all those years and now I have started having major problems with flatulence (very smelly kind). After researching this on the internet I found that charcoal capsules are good for this. Needless to say it is quite embarrassing to be in public with this problem. But I can't have a normal life without the Questran.
Review by Katherine
I got my life back (and started gaining weight again!) after a new doctor put me on Questran for post-gallbladder removal diarrhea. I had found though that the generic from EON Labs was the formulation that worked best for me. I received a month's supply from a different manufacturer and the symptoms returned. So I made sure that I found a pharmacy that got their supply from EON Labs.
Unfortunately, Sandoz has bought out EON Labs, and they must have had their own formulation of it, because you can no longer get the EON Labs version (NDC codes on the Eon and the Sandoz product are the same). I read with interest the letters from others who have said that they had similar problems with different manufacturer's formulations of this product.
What I'd like to know is, does the Questran brand drug seem to work for those who have had trouble with different manufacturer's formulations of this product? If so, I'll see if I can find the brand name formulation at a local pharmacy.
Review by Suzie
I've just had another uncontrollable bout of diarrhea. I was out shopping with my grandson and I couldn't get home fast enough...so embarrassing. That was an hour ago, and I decided in desperation to look on the internet for info on Questran. I was prescribed Questran about a month ago when I went in for a colonoscopy.
I told the doctor that since having my gallbladder removed eight years ago the diarrhea was worsening, and it is nothing unusual for me to have numerous bowel movements daily! I told him I thought Lactaid helped a bit, but I worried that too much of that might not be good. He said it was just an enzyme and couldn't hurt, and he then prescribed Questran. I tried that for a few days and thought it helped, but it didn't totally eliminate my problem, so I haven't taken it in about five days.
When I stumbled upon this site and read that there are generic forms, I looked at my packet and realized that mine is generic; it says Cholestyramine by EON Labs, 4g of it in each 9g pouch. I am going to call my doctor now and ask him to prescribe Questran in the non-generic form and see if that gives me the relief I so desperately need. After reading these reviews, I am going to try adjusting the doses in an effort to get my life back. I'll give a rating of three right now! I'm going to give it another try!
Review by Veljka
I was diagnosed with IBS long ago, but was never prescribed any medication. I suffered all my life from stomach pain and diarrhea, and three months ago I was finally diagnosed with idiopathic bile salt malabsorption and Questran was prescribed. I am living a new life since. No more pain, no more running to the washroom.
With Questran I realized that I have to make sure to take more fiber so that I do not get constipated, and of course a lot of water. I am taking it in the evening because I want to make some time between other medication that I have to take in the morning (Synthroid) so that they do not interact.
Review by Debbie
I have been taking Questran for four years and it has been great. It has worked very well for my IBS-D and I've enjoyed a normal life. Just recently I think the manufacturer has done something different or changed it somehow, as I am now having a return of symptoms that I haven't had in such a long time. I read with interest a review from Karen on this page about different manufacturers of this drug, and I wonder if Karen ended up finding the manufacturer that was helpful to her.
Review by Tracy
I just wanted to thank all of you out there who suggested using Questran after having your gallbladder removed. I had the surgery almost a year ago. I had IBS symptoms before the surgery and afterwards they only got worse. I even had to quit my job due to this problem.
After the usual tests, endoscopy, colonoscopy, and barium tests I was diagnosed with IBS and given Bentyl, Levbid, and pain meds. I was told that IBS was no big deal by my gastroenterologist. Yeah, right...try almost having an accident sometime. It's the worst thing ever! I was in constant pain and misery. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I was afraid to do anything or go anywhere, especially if it had to do with eating. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, I finally found a doctor who would prescribe Questran, and I feel so much better already, it's been less than a week. I'm not sure of the long-term effects for me, but I hope now I can get my life back and not be afraid to enjoy living again.
Review by Marie
I have suffered with digestive problems my entire life, and 15 years ago, after a battery of tests, I was finally given the official diagnosis of IBS-D. I was told that there was no cure, and that I would have to learn to live with this disorder by adjusting my diet. (They also thought stress brought on this condition; now they know it just aggravates it.)
Upon having my gallbladder removed nine years ago, I picked up RGE (rapid gastric emptying) to go along with the IBS. I also developed Reflux. Every decision I have made on a daily basis for the majority of my life has revolved around my digestive tract. I don't mind having a disorder as long as it can be kept under control by diet or medication, but nothing the doctors tried over the years has worked.
Whereas most people never give their stomach a thought, I was conscious of my stomach every hour of the day. The only medication that worked for me was an anti-depressant which I took for two years. During that time, I did not have one IBS flare-up, but I gained about 45 pounds. Therefore, I was forced to discontinue the drug. When I did, the IBS symptoms returned.
I retired from the workforce this past August. Last week I went to my GP and told him that I don't want my remaining years to be as miserable as the past years have been. I stressed that we have to re-evaluate my digestive symptoms and come up with something that will give me some relief. He suggested Questran.
My doctor said that once the gallbladder is removed, there is no place to store the bile. Therefore, it seeps into the digestive tract and is similar to soapy water. It irritates everything along its path and speeds up the digestive process. Questran binds with the bile salts in the intestines and prevents them from reaching the colon. He also pointed out that Questran lowers cholesterol. That was the primary reason that people used to take this medication before the statin drugs were available. Since my cholesterol is a little over 200, it made sense that I should at least give Questran a try.
My prescription came in a round tin with a little scoop inside (I've since read on this site that you can get packets), and the prescription called for me to dissolve one scoop of Questran in juice each morning. Because my body tends to do the opposite of what is expected when I take medication, I decided to only use half a scoop.
It may be too early to tell, but a week later I am calling it a miracle. For six days I have been able to eat any food I want with no cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or urgency. I supplement it with Carafate (coats the stomach) and Prilosec (cuts down on the production of acid). It may be too early to tell if Questran is the answer to my prayers, but at least now I have hope that perhaps I will be able to enjoy my retirement years.
Review by Artie
I had my gallbladder removed in 1997. The surgeon said the bouts of cramping and diarrhea would go away. I kept thinking my emotional state was to blame...stress, anxiety, nervousness...only made the matter worse. It was getting to the point that I dreaded being out of the house, eating out with friends, etc. Even at home, I found that certain food items would explode right through me.
I found Questran on the internet and asked my doctor if he would prescribe it. I've been taking a nine gram pouch daily first thing in the morning, before eating. I immediately got my life back, and it has been heaven-sent. I've been taking it since April 2006. I don't know how I would be functioning without it.
Review by Tiffany
Last year I had my gallbladder removed, because I had so many stones that it seemed like an easy fix. My surgeon or PCP never told me about the suffering I would experience without my beloved gallbladder.
I was diagnosed with IBS almost immediately after my surgery. I have been on Zelnorm, Aciphex, fiber pills/supplements and Questran for almost a year now with no relief. When I read about Questran I was really excited that I might be able to live a normal life, but so far, no such luck. I mean, I've been reading these postings and some people seem to have almost instantaneous results, but I'm still waiting for mine.
I've tried one packet to four packets a day with no perfect dosage. I am so glad that there are other people out there who suffer like I am, now I feel I don't have to stress nearly as much.
Review by Theresa
I have suffered from IBS from the age of 19. My gastroenterologist tried Elavil, but I saw no improvement, and I felt drowsy in the morning. I have been on Questran for five weeks now, and I cannot believe the improvement. I am no longer tied to the restroom. I just returned from a driving trip (eight hours) and I did not have a single episode of cramping or diarrhea. I would highly recommend this to anyone whose life has been put on hold by IBS.
Review by Barbara
I have had several years of IBS brought on, I believe initially, by gallbladder removal. After having a colonoscopy and endoscopy and being officially diagnosed as IBS it was then a long pursuit of finding anything that would relieve the interminable diarrhea at all the most inopportune times.
I had seen several doctors who stated it was because of stress etc, all the usual things all IBS sufferers have heard for years. True, I am sure my life is as stressful as the next person, but I have never taken medication for the stress and have no plans to do so. Most of the stress that has kept building over the years has been feeling like a non-human most of the time and never being able to go anywhere without knowing where the bathrooms were located. I have not been able to go on a vacation for years never knowing when the diarrhea would strike.
I happened upon an article in Sophie's newsletter that talked about Questran as a treatment. I went to my physician and fortunately he agreed that trying it would not hurt me and may help. I started taking Questran and it has helped to a great extent. I still have the occasional flare-ups where I have to take an additional Bentyl to calm the intestines down, but for the most part the Questran is a true lifesaver for me.
I am still not real comfortable going places but I have gained a little control over my life for the first time in years. Questran is a must for people without a gallbladder and diarrhea-type IBS.
Review by Mary
I've had IBS for as long as I can remember. I tried lots of different things with some success, but in the searching for the answers to my digestive problems, it was decided to remove my gallbladder. After surgery, I found I was having a lot more diarrhea than I was used to with IBS.
After a few weeks of utter misery, my gastroenterologist has put me on Questran. I started with four packs per day but ended up totally constipated. I am now taking one packet per day and that seems to really be helping. For the first time since I can remember, I have had one regular bowel movement in the morning and that's it.
I really hope this continues! I'm a short-time user, but I've seen good results so far. I hope if you're in the same predicament you'll ask your doctor if you can try it. I think it might be the answer for my post-gallbladder problems and IBS!
Review by Karen
I am a long-time user of Questran (over 16 years), first while the brand name was protected, and later when the generic form became available. About two years ago my doctor changed my prescription from regular to light and I found it worked, but I had to work with my doctor to adjust the dosage. Then the doctor changed the prescriptions so generic cholestyramine could be supplied to me.
I have had difficulties with generics from two manufacturers. One only gave partial relief for about two weeks before I went back to chronic diarrhea, the other worked for about one month, then it was a quick downhill slide to chronic diarrhea. As long as I obtain a generic from one particular manufacturer, it still works.
An issue is that the prescription indicates that generic substitution is acceptable, but there does not seem to be a way to ensure it is generic from a particular manufacturer. I have just had the problem that the supply of either brand or generic from that manufacturer has dried up. Local pharmacies are indicating their suppliers are back-ordering requests for that manufacturer and are filling requests, instead, from other manufacturers.
For me, these past few months have been difficult, since generic Questran from other manufacturers has not worked for me. Questran itself, as I took it for a year, was excellent. My issue is with what seems to be a difference in how it is manufactured by various labs/vendors.
Review by Alison
I have had the diagnosis label of IBS for six years now and it completely took over my life. I had diarrhea every day and had to take Loperamide to get out of the door in the mornings.
Finally after seeing a consultant privately he found out that I was not absorbing bile and consequently this was the cause of my problem, not IBS at all. He prescribed Questran. I have been taking this now for four weeks and I am cured. I take one sachet one day and two the next and this controls my symptoms. At last I have my life back after six years of absolute misery, not only for me but for my family who have had to look out for toilets for six years. My advice is not to accept the label of IBS without having thorough investigations. Do not suffer for six years like I did!
Review by Stacey
I was diagnosed with IBS with diarrhea about a year and a half ago. At the time my symptoms were cramping (sometimes quite severe), gas, and of course diarrhea (most of the time quite urgent). Usually they happened right after I ate, and especially if it was a large meal or a high fat meal. I was rushing to the bathroom at least four or five times a day and I got to the point where I didn't want to leave my house because I was afraid of having an accident.
I got to know where all the public toilets were and found a polite way of asking please, could I use your bathroom in other places. I tried modifying my diet but could never pinpoint anything that caused my symptoms - so frustrating. It seemed like it just didn't matter what I did or didn't eat or drink, I still found myself rushing to the nearest toilet.
I went for a colonoscopy and the results from that showed nothing unusual or alarming in my colon - good news, but still not helpful with my diarrhea. My doctor prescribed Questran for me about a year ago. At first I was taking four doses per day and it seemed to help with the diarrhea, but I felt quite bloated and crampy.
After a couple of months, and with the help of the pharmacist (who was very knowledgeable and understanding) I found that one dose per day was the ticket for me. I actually take the generic form of Questran which is called cholestyramine.
I have had very few symptoms in the months since I've been taking Questran, and I've only had to rush to the bathroom a handful of times. I go to the bathroom about once a day, and I feel very regular. Sometimes during my menstrual cycle I get a little off and have a bout with diarrhea or some cramping but it is very tolerable and never urgent. I most definitely feel like I can go on with a normal life and not have to be afraid and depressed anymore.
Review by Laurie
I have had IBS for many years and used Imodium to control my diarrhea. Then I had my gallbladder removed and the resulting diarrhea wasn't controlled by the Imodium anymore. My doctor prescribed Questran and I have been on it for a week. I have had one bout of diarrhea, but am still adjusting the dosage so I don't feel discouraged.
I pray this will help me as much as the other posters on this site. I never realized how narrow my life had become when every waking moment was spent thinking about whether or not I would have diarrhea, or massaging my abdomen to sooth the pain, or making excuses as to why I couldn't join friends going out for dinner, or taking a hike, or going to the beach. I will never take life for granted if this works!
Review by Pam
I have been using Questran for one week now after years of diarrhea, and the effect has been miraculous! I wish all those without gallbladders could know of the great possibilities of this drug. It seems like many of those who post on this site have had gallbladder removal, and have found relief through calcium, etc. I hope that they also learn about the option of Questran! Thanks for this website - it is so important when one has such an anxiety-producing condition to know that others are coping successfully with it.
Review by Denise
I've been dealing with Crohn's and IBS for six years now. In that time I've had three surgeries and many of those fun upper and lower scopes. Anyhow, after infusions and taking up to 40-50 pills a day, I was giving up hope and my life for the way I felt.
I then did a lot of searching on the web and came to find Questran. I was so not ready for this powder drink and wasn't even going to try it. I saw it helped a lady who didn't have her gallbladder (like me) so I said to myself the worst thing that could happen is I'll still be the same.
Well within a week I got my life back! Every morning like brushing my teeth I drink this Questran and I can eat where and when I want with no pain. I will never take food for granted again! So I hope if you're thinking about Questran please try it - you'll have everything to gain (weight) and nothing more to lose. Thank you for letting me tell my story.
Review by Denise
I had my gallbladder out 12 years ago and suffered from diarrhea for approximately five years before I found the right gastroenterologist. She immediately placed me on Questran and I have improved about 90%. I still have bouts of diarrhea that are not controlled but things are much better.
The unfortunate thing is that my doctor never told me of the possibility of diarrhea after my cholecystectomy. Therefore, I thought the diarrhea was all emotional. Thank goodness I found the right doctor. Since then I have been an advocate for Questran with my friends who have had gallbladder surgery and Crohn's disease. It really saved my social life.
Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried Questran? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.