|Type of medicine||Anti-inflammatory medicine for gout|
|Used for||Gout attacks|
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.
Colchicine works by reducing the number of white blood cells which travel into the inflamed areas. This helps break the cycle of inflammation and reduces swelling and pain. It will have been prescribed if you are unable to take anti-inflammatory painkillers, which are the medicines most often used to ease a gout attack.
Before taking colchicine
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 colchicine 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 heart, liver or kidneys.
- If you have any problems with your digestive system.
- If you have a blood disorder.
- 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 colchicine
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about colchicine, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- For sudden gout attacks, it is usual to take one tablet 2-4 times a day until your pain eases, although your doctor may suggest you take the tablets more frequently at first. Take colchicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack.
- It is important you do not take more than 12 tablets during any one attack. It is also important that you do not take another course of colchicine within the next three days.
- If you have recently been prescribed a medicine to prevent gout attacks (such as allopurinol, febuxostat, or sulfinpyrazone) and you have been given colchicine to prevent flare-up gout attacks, the usual dose for this is one tablet twice each day.
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.
- 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 colchicine 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 colchicine side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, pain in your abdomen||Stop your course of tablets and let your symptoms settle. If the sickness continues or is severe, speak with your doctor|
|Diarrhoea||Stop your course of tablets and let your symptoms settle. If this is severe or contains blood, speak with your doctor straightaway|
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 colchicine
- 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, Colchicine 500 microgram Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Colchicine 500 microgram Tablets, Wockhardt UK Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2010.
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.
Prof Cathy Jackson