Colchicine is an alkaline medication made out of the dried seeds and dried corns of the Colchicum autumnale, which is also known as the meadow saffron or the autumn crocus. This medication is used to prevent and treat gout attacks in adults. Gout attacks are intense joint pains that occur when a person has too much uric acid in the bloodstream. In adults and children, colchicine can also be used to treat FMF, or familiar Mediterranean fever. This is a genetic disorder in which a person’s joints, stomach and lungs are subject to sharp pain and swelling; fever can also accompany a bout of FMF.
A person who suffers from familial Mediterranean fever will take a Colchicine tablet once or twice a day, either with food or without. People with FMF often start out taking this medication at lower doses and then increasing this dosage little by little. If a person is subject to gout attacks, he or she will take a colchicine tablet as soon as the pain comes on, and then a second tablet – one with a smaller dosage of the medicine – about an hour after the first dosage. In the event of a massive gout attack, your doctor may tell you over the phone to take an extra colchicine tablet or a stronger dosage, in which case he or she will probably also tell you not to take another tablet for at least twelve hours. Don’t ever take an extra tablet or a higher dosage of this drug without specific instructions from your doctor to do so, however. Indeed, specific instructions for Colchicine usage will vary from patient to patient, and it’s always essential that you follow the instructions for this medication your doctor has given you. Note, too, that once you stop taking Colchicine you will still have FMF or gout problems. This drug does not cure these conditions; it merely alleviates their symptoms to make daily life easier for patients.
If you find that you’re still in pain from a gout attack even after you’ve taken your Colchicine medication, you’ll want to let your doctor know. Perhaps another method of treatment will then be used. And when you’re on this medication, you’ll want to avoid alcohol, or at least reduce or limit your intake of alcohol, as alcohol can render this drug much less effective at preventing pain. And do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice at all while you’re taking this medicine, as the combination of grapefruit and Colchicine can be dangerous to your health. Also, be aware that colchicine can make your body less effective at absorbing certain nutrients and foods. Vitamin B12 is an example of such a nutrient. As such, your doctor may offer you a special dietary plan to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients that it needs.
If you suffer from any allergies, specifically medicine allergies, or if you’ve ever suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, or any other liver or kidney problem for that matter, let your doctor know before you start taking Colchicine. You should also provide your doctor with a list of all medications you’re currently taking, as one or more of them may create negative reactions when mixed with Colchicine, and therefore you may have to be more closely monitored by your doctor for the length of time you’re on Colchicine. And if you become pregnant during the period of time you’re on this drug, call your doctor right away.
Nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps are among the side effects of this medication; you don’t need medical help if you experience these side effects unless you feel they are severe. You may need medical help, however, if you experience such side effects as numbness in your fingers or toes, bleeding or bruising, flu-like symptoms or fatigue.
Finally, go to the emergency room if you suspect you have taken too much Colchicine. You can die from an overdose of this medication.