What are the Different Colchicine Side Effects?

Debra Durkee

Colchicine is an oral medication used in the treatment of gout and other inflammatory diseases, but using it typically brings about various side effects. It works by helping to relieve the symptoms that occur with gout, particularly the swelling. Once an individual stops taking the medication, both symptoms and benefits will typically disappear.

Abdominal pain can be a short-lived side effect of colchicine.
Abdominal pain can be a short-lived side effect of colchicine.

When starting colchicine, an individual may suffer from gastrointestinal side effects. These are common, typically mild, and generally disappear once the body adjusts to the medication. Stomach cramps, intestinal or abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting and nausea or diarrhea are all relatively short-term colchicine side effects. Some individuals may also show signs of hair loss and muscle weakness.

A sore throat can be the result of an immune system problem caused by colchicine.
A sore throat can be the result of an immune system problem caused by colchicine.

Occasionally, there may be more serious colchicine side effects. Taking the drug may cause damage to an individual's bone marrow. This in turn can lower the number of white blood cells present in the bloodstream and compromise the body's ability to fight off infection. Many health professionals will conduct regular blood tests to ensure the patient's immune system is not being compromised by the drug. Signs of infection such as a sore throat, cough, or fever should be a warning.

The manifestation of some colchicine side effects should be followed by a call to a health professional. Ongoing fatigue, a flu-like weakness, gray skin, and numbness or tingling in the extremities should be reported as serious side effects. Some individuals become easily susceptible to bruising and bleeding.

An individual's predisposition to allergies can increase the side effects of colchicine, and any allergies should be reported before administration of the medication takes place. Combining it with other medications may also create unwanted and sometimes dangerous side effects. The amount that should be taken can vary based on factors including the severity of the condition and the overall health of the individual; following the prescription's instructions can also help minimize colchicine side effects. The citrus juice of a grapefruit can interfere with the medication, and an individual should not eat whole fruits or drink the juice.

A health professional can recommend that the medication be used in one of two ways, the first of which can greatly reduce the appearance and severity of colchicine side effects. Colchicine can be administered in a relatively low dose that is taken regularly, acting as a preventative measure against future gout flare-ups. Alternately, it can also be prescribed in a larger dose only when these attacks occur. Taking regular, smaller doses means there is a more constant amount of the medication in the body all the time, which can help an individual's system adjust to it. This method typically reduces the impact of side effects as well as the severity of the occurrences of illness.

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