|Type of medicine||Xanthine-oxidase inhibitor|
|Used for||To prevent attacks of gout
To reduce high blood levels of uric acid associated with some types of kidney stones and cancer treatments
Gout causes attacks of painful inflammation in one or more of your joints. It is caused by a build-up of a naturally-occurring chemical in your blood, called uric acid (urate). From time to time the level of uric acid in your blood may become too high and tiny grit-like crystals may form, which typically collect in your joints and tendons. The crystals irritate the tissues of the joint to cause inflammation, swelling, and pain. Your doctor will have prescribed another medicine (such as an anti-inflammatory painkiller or colchicine) for you to take during a gout attack.
If you have had a number of gout attacks, your doctor will prescribe allopurinol to help prevent more attacks from occurring. It does this by reducing the levels of uric acid in your blood. Allopurinol does not have any effect during a gout attack, as it is not a painkiller.
Allopurinol can also help prevent uric acid levels building up in some other conditions too. These include some types of kidney stones, and during some treatments for cancer. It works in these conditions by lowering the levels of uric acid in blood.
Before taking allopurinol
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 allopurinol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with your liver or kidneys.
- If you are taking or using 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 any medicine.
How to take allopurinol
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of allopurinol you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take allopurinol exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and when to take it. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack.
- When starting this treatment your doctor will give you a small dose at first, and then gradually increase the dose if this is necessary. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms.
- Take allopurinol tablets with a full glass of water, preferably just after eating a meal or a snack. It's important that you drink plenty of water while you are on these tablets.
- You may take allopurinol at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, although most people choose to take their doses in a morning. Try to take your doses at the same time of day each day, as this will help you to avoid missing any doses.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. A blood test is often done a month or so after starting allopurinol, to check that the level of uric acid has come down.
- Allopurinol takes 2-3 months to become fully effective. You need to take it every day to prevent gout attacks.
- During the first few weeks you take allopurinol, your blood levels of uric acid may rise for a short while before they fall. This can cause a gout attack. Your doctor will prescribe an anti-inflammatory treatment or colchicine tablets for you to take if this happens. You should also continue to take your allopurinol tablets each day.
- Treatment with allopurinol for gout is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets unless you are advised otherwise.
- There are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce the risk of having gout attacks. These include losing weight (if you are overweight), eating a healthy diet, and not drinking much alcohol or sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Your doctor can advise you about the changes which may benefit you.
Can allopurinol cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common allopurinol side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Skin rash||This may occur at any time during treatment with allopurinol. You must let your doctor know about this, even if the rash is mild|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store allopurinol
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Zyloric® Tablets 100 mg, 300 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Zyloric® Tablets 100 mg, 300 mg, Aspen, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2010.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Helen Huins|
|Last Checked: 13/06/2012||Document ID: 3217 Version: 23||© EMIS|
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.