Articles, DRUGS

Colchicine(Colcrys) – Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Interactions

Gout is a very common illness plaguing people’s lives these days. Everybody has a hectic schedule to follow and having occasional to frequent arthritis and gout problems is not unheard of anymore. In fact, sore shoulders and back are causing a lot of problem to patients and doctors alike, so much so that they have become the signs of a hard worker. A swollen joint and tenderness in the area often gets overlooked due to the high occurrence of joint pains, but one should definitely keep an eye out for symptoms of gout.

A very common medication for treating gout is the colcrys drug, also known by the generic name of colchicine drug. The colchicine drug is an alkaloid made from the plants of Colchicum and mixed with dried corns. It can also be made from the meadow saffron or the autumn crocus and generally looks like a light yellowish powder which is soluble in water. The drug is taken orally as colchichine tablets, to treat not only gout but also other kinds of inflammatory diseases, and the rarer diseases of the Mediterranean fever, Behcet’s disease, atrial fibrillation and pericarditis. It also has an effect on mild skin irritation symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome.

The colcrys drug is also known as (S) N-(5,6,7,9-tetrahydro- 1,2,3, IO-tetramethoxy-9-oxobenzo [alpha] heptaien-7-yl) acetamide. It comes in primarily two strengths of dosage, one the colchicine 0.6mg and the other is the colchicine 0.5mg. The 0.5mg dosage contains sugars, stearic acid, calcium carbonate, sucrose and talc, while the 0.6mg dosage contains corn starch, lactose, stearic acid again, acacia and talc.

Colchicine(Colcrys)

COLCHICINE DRUG BENEFITS:

Colchicine is the top medicine for treating inflammatory diseases like gout. Gout can present itself in many forms; it basically looks like a tender, red and swollen region at the joints, and generally attacks the knees, elbows, ankles and the big toe. To understand how colchicine really works, we need to understand what really causes gout.

Gout is generally caused when there is an excess buildup of uric acid in the blood stream. When the levels of uric acid exceed the acceptable levels, it forms a kind of hard crystal in the joints. Colchicine works by diluting and reducing this hard crystal layer of uric acid, thus lessening the swelling experienced at the places due to the accumulation of uric acid.

Apart from gout, colchicine uses also work on pains inflicted in the abdomen, chest and the back. There is a rare inherited disease which inflicts only the joints. It is known as the Mediterranean fever, and colchicine works wonders on the patients suffering from this ailment. This kind of fever increases the production of amyloid A proteins in our body, and colchicine counteracts it by decreasing its production.
There are also some unofficial colchicine uses which should only be applied after doctor’s orders. The drug can be used to reduce and treat inflammation of the heart’s sac, commonly referred to as pericarditis.

HOW TO USE COLCHICINE:

Colchicine is a tricky drug to administer on your own. You need proper doctor’s guidance and prescription to have it without complications. The drug is generally taken orally with food, however you can have it without food too depending on your doctor’s prescription. They come in tablets, and colchicine tablets can be taken in the preordained dosage or in the dosage prescribed by the doctor.

When you are taking colchicine for treating gout problems, you need to follow the doctor’s orders very closely. One misstep and instead of treating the problem, you might in fact cause more complications. With gout, it is better if you act without delay and take the medicine as soon as the first symptoms start to show. Doctors generally prescribe a colchicine dosage of 1.2mg when the first attacks start, and then a second dosage of 0.6mg to be taken after an hour of taking the first dose of medication. If the problem persists, you can take a maximum dosage of around 1.8mg which needs to be taken over a period of one hour only. Depending on the intensity and frequency of your gout attacks, you have to repeat the same dosages again and again.

Colchicine drug

When the medicine is being taken to treat attacks of Mediterranean fever, the recommended colchicine dosage is usually around 1.2mg to 2.4mg to be taken on a regular basis. Of course the final dosage depends on your symptoms and on your doctor’s decisions. You can take the medicine in one go or divide it into two halves to be taken twice every day. For pericarditis, you should strictly stick to doctor’s regulations only.

The dosage of colchicine to be taken by a patient depends not only on the patient’s symptoms but also on the other drugs taken by the patient. The kind of food and drinks taken by the patient, and the kind of lifestyle followed also plays an important role, so you need to be very clear with your doctor and let him in on your food and lifestyle habits.

One thing to avoid during the course of taking this medicine is grapefruit. Always make sure to stay away from grapefruit and grapefruit juice unless specifically told not to by the doctor. Grapefruit as certain medicinal benefits and can add certain vitamins to our system which can hinder the normal functioning of colchicine, hence avoiding it during its course is the safest bet.

COLCHICINE DOSAGE:

The two primarily used dosages of this medicine are colchicine 0.5mg and colchicine 0.6mg.  The two dosages can mixed together to create dosages of varying amounts for different diseases and depending on the symptoms of the patient. Of course, doctor’s discretion is invaluable for colchicine.

Out of the many diseases that colchicine treats, the most important one is gout. To get instant relief from a gout attack, you should take an amount of 1 to 1.2mg of colchicine right after the attack. You can take the medicine either in the form of two 0.5mg granules or two 0.6mg tablets, whichever is prescribed by your doctor. Following the initial dosage, one unit of either granules or tablets may be administered every hour, or two units of preparations every two hours, as is convenient according to the patient.

The medicine needs to be taken as soon as the first sign of a gout attack surfaces, and should be continued till diarrhea is ensues. The total amount of medicine administered may range from 4 to 8mg during the total duration of an attack. However, one should remember to have a break of at least 3 days before taking the medicine to avoid the side effects. If the patient is to undergo surgery, an attack of gout can be kept at bay by giving the medicine to the patient for three days before the surgery, and also for three days after the surgery, just to make sure that there are no gout related complications during the recovery period.

Colchicine is also used to treat prophlaxis during intercritical periods. The usual dosage for patients who suffer from less than one attack in a year is around 0.5 to 0.6mg, which can be taken around four to five times per week. However, if the patient suffers from more than one attack every year, then he/she needs to take the dosage every day, and patients who suffer from severe attacks need 2 to 3 granules or tablets of colchicine on a daily basis.

PRECAUTIONS:

Colchicine is a risky medicine to take as many people get adverse effects upon having this medicine. Some people are allergic to it, while others suffer from various symptoms if the medicine is not taken in the correct dosage. Make sure that you let your doctor know if you are allergic to the medicine. In fact, let your doctors know about all your allergies so that he can make an informed decision about whether or not to prescribe you this medicine. Also don’t forget to tell you doctor in detail about your medical history, especially if you have had kidney stones and liver problems in the past.

Alcohol should strictly be avoided when on this medicine as alcohol greatly reduces the effectiveness of the colchicine drug. Grapefruit should also be avoided at all costs. The colcrys drug also affects the nutrients intake of our body and helps us absorb certain vitamins and nutrients a lot better than other nutrients. Your doctor should be able to help you with that kind of problem and tell you more about it.

When trying to get pregnant, the person should avoid taking this medicine, both man and woman. Colchichine reduces sperm count and thus can hinder the chances of a male successfully impregnating a woman. It also poses certain threats when taken during pregnancy by the woman, so in both cases, immediate consultation with the doctor is very necessary. New mothers should also have a word with their doctor before continuing with the medicine since colchicine finds its way into breast milk as well. Even though no immediate danger to children has been reported, it is better to separate the timings of taking the medicine and breast-feeding.

INTERACTION WITH OTHER MEDICATIONS:

Different drugs when taken together can work quite unexpectedly and create unexpected problems in the body. It is very important to know how the medications you take are going to react with other medications to always be away from health problems, especially when hard prescription drugs are concerned.

Like any other medicine, colchicine also reacts differently when taken with different medications. Some medications can enhance the effects of colchicine to the effect of causing an overdose, while others can reduce and eliminate the colchicine from the system altogether. The most common medications which interact with this drug are cyclosporine, antibiotics, HIV medicines, verapamil, etc.

Some drugs, like digoxin, simvastanin, atorvastanin and pravastanin, when taken in combination with colchicine, causes kidney problems and severe muscle damage like rhabdomyolysis. To get a detailed list of all the positive and negative interactions of the drug colchicine, consult your doctor or visit your local drugstore.

SIDE EFFECTS:

Colchicine has many side effects which can range from mild to severe. Depending on your bodily reaction to the medicine and the dosage taken, you may suffer from any number of side effects. Let’s discuss a few of the major side effects experienced by colchicine takers.

  • Colchicine side effects include nausea, diarrhea and cramping in the upper abdomen. People may also suffer from severe abdominal pains after prolonged usage.
  • Some colchicine side effects also include muscle weakness and pain, severe bleeding and bruisine, numbness in the limbs, tingling in the fingers and toes, unusual weakness, signs of infection, gray colored lips and palms, gray colored tongue, increase or decrease in the number of times you go to the bathroom, shortness of breath and fast heartbeats.
  • You may experience rash, dizziness, severe itching and swelling on limbs, and may even have trouble breathing. It all really depends on your body and your dosage.
  • If you notice even one of the above mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to visit your doctor as soon as possible and let him have a look. It is never wise to let side effects fester without treating them.

Whenever you suffer from any kind of inflammatory problems such as gout, you can turn to the colcrys drug without hesitation. It hardly ever causes any problems in the user and most of the time gets rid of the pain in an instant. You don’t even have to take the medicine everyday to keep inflammation at bay. In fact, it is one of the safest anti-inflammatory medicines out there which doctors recommend without a hesitation.

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