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Colchicine Side Effects

Commonly reported side effects of colchicine include diarrhea and nausea. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to colchicine: oral capsule, oral tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by colchicine. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking colchicine:

More common
  • Diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • burning, "crawling", or tingling feeling in the skin
  • difficulty with breathing when exercising
  • fever with or without chills
  • headache
  • large, hive-like swellings on the face, eyelids, mouth, lips, or tongue
  • muscle weakness
  • numbness in the fingers or toes (usually mild)
  • pain
  • peeling of the skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • redness
  • skin rash or hives
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • sore throat
  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking colchicine, get emergency help immediately:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Bleeding
  • burning feeling in the stomach, throat, or skin
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • diarrhea (severe or bloody)
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • muscle weakness (very severe)
  • nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting (severe)

Some of the side effects that can occur with colchicine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Less common
  • Hair loss
  • loss of appetite

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to colchicine: compounding powder, intravenous solution, oral capsule, oral tablet


Gastrointestinal side effects have included diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in nearly 80% of treated patients, and can be indicative of acute colchicine toxicity. Anorexia, electrolyte disturbance, pancreatitis, and paralytic ileus may also occur, and steatorrhea and enzyme inhibition have been reported in patients on long-term colchicine prophylaxis.[Ref]


A case of fatal pancytopenia developed in a patient treated with 10 mg of colchicine over a 5 day period.

Thrombocytopenia is a rare side effect and is usually associated with myelotoxicity.[Ref]

Hematologic side effects have included thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, bone marrow failure, bone marrow depression, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and aplastic anemia in patients on long-term therapy and are most common in cases of overdose or intoxication. Heinz-body hemolytic anemia has been reported in 3 cases.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have rarely included myopathy, seizures, mental status changes, and neuropathy in patients with impaired renal function, and are sometimes reversible with drug discontinuation. Neuromyopathy occurrence has been reported with or without elevated muscle enzymes.[Ref]

Colchicine-induced neuromyopathy often presents with a pattern of general muscle weakness, elevated creatinine phosphokinase, a diffuse myositic pattern on EMG, and noninflammatory vacuolar changes on muscle biopsy.[Ref]


Renal side effects have included acute renal failure and rare cases of rapid progressive glomerulonephritis. Chronic renal failure and acute renal failure with a fatal outcome following colchicine toxicity have been reported.[Ref]

Acute renal failure with a fatal outcome has been reported in a 78-old-man after a 10 day course of colchicine 0.5 mg three times a day.

Chronic renal failure has been reported in two Sepharad patients after 20 years of appropriate colchicine therapy for familial Mediterranean fever.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included urticaria, alopecia after intoxication or long-term usage, toxic epidermal necrolysis with concomitant ethanol use, fixed drug eruption, dermatitis, and purpura.[Ref]


A case of reversible azoospermia has been reported in a patient treated with colchicine. The patient's sperm count returned to normal when colchicine was discontinued, and decreased on reintroduction of the drug. The patient fathered two apparently normal children while not receiving the drug. One study of six patients treated with colchicine showed moderate oligospermia in two patients, but no effect in any of the treated patients.[Ref]

Genitourinary side effects have rarely included azoospermia.[Ref]


Hepatic side effects have occasionally been reported.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects including adult respiratory distress syndrome have been reported.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects have been reported the most frequently. These have included myopathy, manifested as weakness, neuropathy, and paralysis.[Ref]


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31. Vigneau C, Petrover D, Sraer JD "Late Occurrence of Chronic Renal Failure in Familial Mediterranean Fever after 20 Years of Colchicine Treatment." Ann Intern Med 135 (2001): 1096

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34. Merlin HE "Azoospermia caused by colchicine--a case report." Fertil Steril 23 (1972): 180-1

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Not all side effects for colchicine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.