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Traditional Gout MedicinesThere are four common gout medicines doctors prescribe to ailing gout patients:
ALLOPURINOL (Zyloprim)(a prescription drug).This gout medicine attempts to inhibit uric acid synthesis and has been linked to several side effects, namely skin eruptions, blood vessel inflammation, and liver toxicity. Because of these known side effects, patients taking allopurinol must perform periodic liver enzymes, renal function tests and complete blood counts.
Other side effects include alterations in liver enzymes, including transient elevations of serum alkaline phosphatase, AST and ALT. Reversible hepatomegaly, hepatocellular damage (including necrosis), granulomatous changes, hepatitis and jaundice have also occurred.
COLCHICINE (a prescription drug).Colchicine is used to alleviate attacks. This drug can cause serious side effects and toxicity and even death when taken in high doses.
Side Effects: 80% of people who take colchicine in doses that are high enough to be effective develop stomach problems, such as cramping, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Serious side effects of colchicine include bone marrow problems, muscle inflammation, severe anemia, and extremely low white blood counts that can increase the risk of infection developing. Colchicine is usually avoided or the dose adjusted in people who have reduced kidney function.
INDOMETHACIN (a prescription drug).INDOMETHACIN is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAID's have become the treatment of choice among Doctors and Indomethacin is the most widely used prescription drug for most gout attacks. NSAID's may also have significant toxicity, but if used for SHORT TERM they are generally well tolerated.
Although most widely used among the four gout medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs may not be given to patients suffering from stomach ulcers.
PREDNISONE.PREDNISONE is being prescribed for gout more and more these days. This immunosuppressive drug, though necessary in some cases, is associated with serious long-term side effects such as cataracts, bone loss, weakening of the immune system, and many others.
One of the most serious complications from prednisone is the risk of osteoporosis, which occurs from the bone loss. The most commonly reported side effects are increased acid in the stomach, sodium retention, delayed healing, decreased ability to fight infection, bone and muscle problems, acne, night sweats, increased sugar in the blood, and thrush (yeast growth in the mouth which is a very strong indication of the lack of "friendly" bacteria in the body- sources strongly needed to fight infection). As with many other medications, Prednisone will cover up the disease but it is the underlying problem, the cause of the disease, that must be repaired.
Aside from the severe side effects of these traditional gout medicines, some reports state that their effectivity is not backed by enough substantial and scientific evidence, and that not enough research is being put into these treatments.
A 2004 BBC news article entitled Gout Treatments 'remain unproven' articulates that a reason for the lack of research is the "age" of these remedies. Allopurinol, for instance, was developed back in the 1950s when electronic databases were not yet in place.
Joe Collier, editor of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, believes that reasearch on gout medicines is an urgent matter, and says: "The drugs used are old, so there is no drive to do the necessary research. This is an unacceptable position and needs remedying."
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