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Colchicine

Drug Class: Commonly Known As: Category:
Adult

Colchicine - What is it for

Colchicine is a medicine used to treat or prevent gout flares (worsening in severity of a disease). It can also be used to treat or prevent symptoms in Behcet's disease. Colchicine prevents white blood cells from travelling into the affected areas, therefore reduces inflammation and helps to reduce symptoms such as joint pain, swelling and ulcers.

In addition, Colchicine reduces symptoms during a flare such as joint pain and swelling in gout and Behcet's disease, as well as ulcers in the mouth or genitals and erythema nodosum (inflammed lumps below the skin surface) in Behcet's disease.

Colchicine - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Colchicine cause?

Side effects may occur when taking Colchicine, but the majority of these effects tend to resolve spontaneously. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramp and diarrhoea. These may be reduced by taking Colchicine with food. If you experience severe vomiting, abdominal cramp or diarrhoea during treatment for a flare, you should stop taking the medicine.
  • Loss of appetite

The chance of side effects is lower when lower dose is used for prevention purpose.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist about any symptoms that becomes bothersome.

Before taking Colchicine, what precautions must I follow?

Colchicine may interact with other medicine or supplement that you are taking.

Inform the doctor, pharmacist or specialty nurse before starting any medicines and supplements. Your doctor may reduce your Colchicine dose when taken with medicines such as statins (a class of cholesterol lowering medicines), as they might increase the chance of you experiencing severe side effects.

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Colchicine?

Colchicine - Dosage and How to Use

How should Colchicine be used?

Colchicine comes in 500mcg tablets.

Colchicine should be taken as prescribed by the doctor. It is usually given orally after food. The tablets should be swallowed whole, with a glass of water.

Colchicine may be given in two ways.

  • Your doctor may prescribe a smaller dose such as 500mcg once or twice daily regularly for a period of months to years to prevent flare, or a higher dose such as 500mcg three times daily for a few days to relieve a flare that is occurring.
  • Your doctor may reduce the dose if you have kidney or liver problems, or take medicines that interact (interfere) with Colchicine.

You may start to see improvement within a few hours especially if it is started at the first sign of a flare, but it may take up to several weeks to experience its full benefit when you are using it regularly for gout prevention or Behcet's disease. When used for prevention purpose, your doctor may decide to stop Colchicine when you have no symptoms for a few months.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed. Resume the next dose at regular timining. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose

What should I do if I overdose?

Colchicine - Handling and Storage

How should I handle Colchicine safely?

How should I store Colchicine?

Keep away from children;#Keep in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight;#Store at room temperature;#

How should I dispose of Colchicine safely?

Colchicine - Additional Information

How LONG does it take for the medicine to be EFFECTIVE?

  • Colchicine can be started during a sudden gout attack and often works straightaway
  • Relief usually begins within a few hours especially if it is started at the first sign of a flare but it may take up to several weeks to experience its full benefit when you are using it regularly for gout prevention or Behcet's disease.

When do I seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY?

STOP taking Colchicine and let your doctor know if you develop an allergic reaction. Rash due to allergic reaction to Colchicine is rare. Possible symptoms of allergic reaction are:

  • rash, hives, or itching
  • red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin with or without fever
  • wheezing or tightness in the chest or throat
  • trouble breathing or talking
  • unusual hoarseness
  • swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat

STOP taking Colchicine and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the rare but severe side effects:

  • liver problems - possible symptoms are dark urine, feeling tired, lack of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, light-coloured stools, vomiting, or yellow skin or eyes
  • muscle problems – possible symptoms are unusual muscle pain that persists, dark urine

While having treatment with Colchicine, you must see your doctor as scheduled to monitor response to treatment and minimize any possible side effect.

Can I take other MEDICINES or SUPPLEMENTS?

  • Colchicine can interact with other medicines. You should tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medicines you are taking or plan to take. This includes over the counter herbal medicines. You should also mention your treatment when you see other healthcare professionals
  • Colchicine can usually be taken safely with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as long as your kidney function is reasonably normal
  • Over the counter pain relievers (e.g. paracetamol), can be used while taking colchicine provided you take them as directed

What special DIETARY instructions should I follow?

There are a number of lifestyle changes that help to reduce the risk of having a gout attack. These include:

  • losing weight (if you are overweight)
  • drinking adequate water
  • stopping purine-rich diet such as organ meat, meat extracts, gravies, and beer.

Your doctor and pharmacist will advise you about the changes which could benefit you.

Can I get PREGNANT or BREASTFEED?

For female patient, do inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning for pregnancy or breastfeeding. Colchicine can be continued during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In SUMMARY… what you need to know about colchicine?

  • Colchicine is usually taken once or twice daily for prevention of gout attack
  • Long-term use of colchicine is not normally required unless as specified by the doctor.
  • If you forget to take a dose, do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose
  • If you experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea during treatment for an acute attack, you should stop taking the medicine
  • Colchicine can interact with other medicines. You should tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medicines you are taking or plan to take
  • If you are pregnant or considering having a child, you should discuss this with your doctor before beginning this medication
  • If you have further questions about Colchicine, please call ______________________ (office number) to discuss with your doctor / pharmacist / specialty nurse (please circle as appropriate).
  • Updated on Friday, June 12, 2015
  • Article contributed by Department of Pharmacy, Rheumatology & Immunology Singapore General Hospital

    The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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