Colchicine is a medication used to treat some inflammatory disorders. In children, colchicine is most commonly used to treat Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), Behcet disease and recurrent aphthous stomatitis. In adults, it is more commonly used to treat gout. In the treatment of FMF, it reduces the frequency of fever and arthritis attacks, and prevents complications of FMF.
Colchicine is a pill that is typically taken twice daily. It comes in a 0.6 mg tablet. Patients are commonly started on a low dose (for example 0.3 mg once or twice per day), and the dose is slowly increased if needed. The maximum dose is usually no more than 1.8 mg daily.
The most common side effect of colchicine is diarrhea. Diarrhea can occur in up to 10% of people taking it. Other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting can also occur. Doses may have to be reduced if these symptoms occur. Colchicine is considered safe when taken at the correct dose, but overdosing on the medication can be lethal.
Tell your rheumatology provider if you are experiencing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain while on this medication. This may be a sign that your colchicine dose is too high. Some medications may interfere with colchicine and increase the risk of serious side effects. Some of these medications include clarithromycin, fluoxetine, paroxetine, cimetidine and some antifungal therapies. Grapefruit juice may also interfere with this medication, so avoid grapefruit juice when taking colchicine. Tell your rheumatology provider if you have kidney or liver issues prior to starting this medication as doses may need to be adjusted. Please discuss with your rheumatology provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant.
Updated December 2020 by Osman Bhatty, MD, and reviewed by the American College of Rheumatology Communications and Marketing Committee.
This patient fact sheet is provided for general education only. Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment of a medical or health condition.