Kayexalate belongs to the class of medications called cation-exchange resins. It is used to treat high levels of potassium in the blood, a condition known as hyperkalemia. Even though this essential electrolyte is important for your nerves, heart, and other muscles, too much can be worse for your body. Depending on the severity of your potassium levels, your doctor can prescribe Kayexalate to quickly bring it in check or you may be asked to try a diuretic or make a change in your diet to eliminate foods that are high in potassium.
Kayexalate contains Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate which lowers the level of potassium in the blood by binding to potassium in the intestine and exchanging the potassium sodium ions with sodium ions. The majority of this exchange seems to take place in the large intestine where potassium ions are excreted in greater amounts. This will result in a lower potassium level and regular monitoring with blood tests will be required.
Hyperkalemia is the medical term that describes a potassium level in your blood that's higher than normal. While potassium is a nutrient that is critical to the function of nerve and muscle cells, including those in your heart, too much potassium in your blood can lead to dangerous and possibly deadly changes in heart rhythm.
The most common causes of hyperkalemia are disease or damage of the kidneys. Other causes of this condition may be related to Addison’s disease, alcoholism, certain types of medications, type 1 diabetes. Victims of burns or crushing injuries can also be affected by high potassium levels as this nutrient can leak from your body cells into your bloodstream due to the amount of injured muscle cells there are. Symptoms of hyperkalemia may include weakness, slow heart rate or arrhythmia (a potentially life threatening abnormal heart rhythm).
Ask your doctor if Kayexalate is safe to take if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or are breast feeding. Before receiving Kayexalate tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have: kidney disease, constipation, edema, heart disease, congestive heart failure, or high blood pressure. Discuss all of your current medications so your doctor can decide if some of them should be changed, stopped, or dosage altered while taking Kayexalate.
You should not take Kayexalate if you have obstructive bowel disease. Certain antacids and laxatives should not be taken at the same time as Kayexalate. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medications without talking to your doctor as this could affect how Kayexalate works in your body or may increase risk of side effects. All drugs should be stored out of children’s reach and never share them with anyone else.
You should advise your doctor if you experience any of the following more serious side effects while taking Kayexalate: muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, swelling of the hands or feet, mental/mood changes.