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What are the most common side effects of medications used to treat gout?

William J. Martin, MD
Rheumatology
Doctors decide which medication to use for gout based on the individual and any health complications he or she may have. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for gout, like all medications, can have side effects. Potential side effects of NSAIDs for gout include stomach irritation, kidney injury, liver toxicity, hypertension and cardiac events. Doctors like to avoid these medications in people who have kidney problems. Colchicine can cause bone marrow suppression, liver toxicity, nerve and muscle toxicity and diarrhea. Steroids can increase risk of infection, hypertension, stomach irritation, diabetes, osteoporosis, adrenal insufficiency and cataracts. The potential side effects of allopurinol are rash, diarrhea, nausea, liver toxicity, bone marrow suppression and severe allergic reaction. The side effects of febuxostat are rash, nausea and liver toxicity. Gout is a chronic condition that should be managed for a lifetime. If you begin a uric acid–lowering medication, essentially you need to stay on that medication for life. If doctors take you off the medication, your uric acid levels will increase again and you will have flare-ups.
Some medications used to treat gout have the following side effects:
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): stomach aches, high blood pressure, bleeding, sodium retention, increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Colchicine: diarrhea, decreased blood cell production in the bone marrow, pain and weakness in the muscles
  • Corticosteroids: sodium retention, high blood pressure, inflammation, general discomfort.

Discussing side effects with your doctor can help you find an effective treatment plan for your gout.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.