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Colchicine for Gout

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
colchicine Colcrys

Colchicine is taken in tablet form (oral).

How It Works

Colchicine blocks the inflammation caused by uric acid crystals.

Why It Is Used

Colchicine has long been used to relieve acute gout attacks. It does not lower the level of uric acid. But in low doses, it does reduce the chance of future gout attacks.

Colchicine may be an option for some people who cannot take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

To help reduce the number and severity of gout attacks that can result when uric acid levels change suddenly, colchicine may be given at the same time as uricosuric medicines, such as probenecid or sulfinpyrazone, which lower uric acid levels, or xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which block uric acid production.

Colchicine is avoided or used with caution in people who have:

How Well It Works

Colchicine is usually effective in relieving a gout attack within 12 to 24 hours.1

Low doses of colchicine are effective in preventing or reducing the severity of future gout attacks.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Blood in urine or stools.
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding.
  • Unusual tiredness.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are as effective as and cause less nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea than colchicine. But colchicine is less likely to make peptic ulcers worse.

If you have kidney or liver problems, talk to your doctor before and/or while taking colchicine. This medicine may cause existing kidney or liver conditions to get worse and could lead to harmful reactions and even death.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Wise C (2007). Crystal-induced joint disease. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 9. New York: WebMD.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last Revised June 12, 2012

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