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Updated November 2019
Colchicine is a medicine used to treat gout and pseudogout arthritis. These are types of arthritis caused by a build up of crystals in the joints. Blood cells travel to these areas of inflammation causing pain and swelling. Colchicine prevents white blood cells from travelling into these areas and therefore helps to reduce pain and tenderness.
Colchicine is most commonly used to prevent attacks of gout or pseudogout. It can also be used to treat acute attacks when nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen (Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Brufen/Nurofen) cannot be used for safety reasons or have been ineffective.
Colchicine can be started during a sudden attack and often works straight away. If you are taking colchicine to relieve gout attack symptoms, start taking it at the first sign of pain.
Relief usually begins within 12 hours and symptoms often disappear within 24 hours.
Colchicine is taken by mouth as a tablet. Tablets are 0.5mg (also expressed as 500mcg or micrograms).
It should be taken with or after food to reduce stomach upset. It should also be taken with plenty of water.
The usual dose for prevention of attacks is one tablet once or twice a day.
Colchicine may be used with other medications (such as allopurinol or probenecid, which help rid the body of stored up excess uric acid), or may be used with reducing doses of corticosteroids.
Colchicine use may be required for a longer period of time to prevent attacks of gout while medications such as allopurinol or probenecid are acting to deplete the body’s excess uric acid.
Colchicine can be used for long-term treatment in pseudogout. In this case it is given in a dose of 1 or 2 tablets a day.
To help you remember your medicine take it at the same time(s) each day. If you forget to take a dose there is no need to double the dose at the next scheduled time.
When used to treat an acute attack colchicine should be started at the first sign of gout. In an acute attack of gout, the recommended dose is:
1 or 2 tablets initially, followed by one tablet one hour later.
Wait 12 hours before taking the next tablet. 1 or 2 tablets daily for a couple of days may be required to completely settle the attack.
If nausea and diarrhoea occur you should stop taking colchicine. Another course of colchicine should not be started for at least 3 days.
Colchicine may be taken if needed in combination with other arthritis medicines, including:
There are separate information sheets for the medicines mentioned above.
Many people will experience mild side effects from colchicine. Below are possible side effects that you might experience with your treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects.
If you do experience side effects a reduction in dose may minimise these so that you can continue to take the medicine. Your doctor will advise on any dose changes that are necessary.
There are some rare but potentially serious side effects with colchicine. If you experience any of these side effects see your doctor straight away.