Allopurinol is a prescription drug belonging to the class of medications called xanthine oxidase inhibitor and it is used to reduce the production of uric acid. This medication is used to treat gout developed owing to excessive levels of uric acid in the blood - a medical condition known as hyperuricemia.
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It may be noted that uric acid is actually a by-product derived from the breakdown of specific proteins, called purines, in the body. Thus, hyperuricemia occurs when the production of uric acid by the body is in excess of what it can get rid of. The excessive uric acid deposits in the joints in the form of crystals (gouty arthritis) and the tissues leading to inflammation and pain. High levels of uric acid in the blood may also result in kidney ailments as well as kidney stones.
Allopurinol is known to work by preventing or reducing the production of uric acid by interfering with the actions of a certain enzyme that transforms purines into uric acid. The levels of uric acid in the body begin to decline within two to three days of starting treatment with allopurinol, while the uric acid returns to its normal level within seven to 10 days after discontinuing this medication. In fact, it may take many months of treatment with allopurinol before the attacks of gout can be brought under control.
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Allopurinol was approved for sale and use by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States before 1982.
As in the instance of starting treatment with any new drug, you ought to adopt a number of precautions before taking allopurinol for your condition. Prior to commencing treatment with this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergic reactions to it or if you have any acute reaction to this medication or if you have any other allergies. Allopurinol may contain certain inactive elements that may result in allergic reactions and/ or other health problems. Hence, if you are not sure about the ingredients of this medication, talk to your pharmacist for further details.
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Prior to starting therapy with allopurinol, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements being taken by you currently or if you intend to take any of them. In addition, tell your doctor regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you have or have ever had any kidney disease, liver ailment, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and/ or unusual diets, for instance fasting.
People taking this medicine should know that allopurinol may cause drowsiness and, hence, they should avoid undertaking any task that may require alertness, for instance driving a vehicle or operating a machine. They should desist from all such activities till they are sure about the impact of the medication on them and also till they are confident that they can perform the tasks safely.
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Consumption of alcoholic beverages while undergoing treatment with allopurinol is likely to reduce the efficacy of this medication. Hence, it is important for such people to restrict their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It may be noted that people requiring allopurinol may experience failing performance of the kidneys as they grow older. Since, allopurinol is removed from the body through the kidneys, elderly people taking this medication are likely to be at a greater risk for side effects of this drug.
Allopurinol should be given to women during pregnancy only when it is absolutely necessary for their medical condition and when all other similar medications fail to respond. Hence, pregnant women should consult their doctor regarding the benefits and risks of taking allopurinol before taking the medication. Allopurinol is known to pass onto breast milk and may harm the infant. Thus, new mothers taking allopurinol too should consult their doctor prior to breast feeding.
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Allopurinol is used to treat chronic gout as well as accumulation of excessive uric acid in the body due to kidney problems, cancer or owing to chemotherapy for cancer. In addition, allopurinol is also prescribed to avoid return of uric acid and kidney stones. Here is a word of caution. Allopurinol should never be given to patients when they are already experiencing an acute gout attack.
Allopurinol is available in tablet and powder forms and is meant to be taken orally, generally once every day or as prescribed by your doctor. It is advisable to take this medication following a meal, as it will help to avoid/ reduce stomach disorders. In the event you are taking a dose of over 300 mg daily, you need to take many smaller doses throughout the day to receive the total amount of medication. It is best to ask your doctor regarding further details on this issue. It is important to take each dose of this medication with a full glass (8 ounces) of water and an additional eight glasses of water/ fluid every day. In case your doctor has instructed you to take lesser amounts of fluid for any other medical condition you may be enduring, ask your doctor for further details on how to make up for the total intake of water/ fluids while taking allopurinol. In addition, your doctor may also suggest you the manner in which you can reduce the amount of uric acid in your urine, for instance, he may suggest avoiding large amounts of vitamin C/ ascorbic acid.
The exact dosage of allopurinol is mainly dependent on the patient's medical condition, the condition that is being treated as well as his/ her response to the therapy. In order to obtain the utmost benefit of taking allopurinol, use this medication on a regular basis. Take this medication around the same time each day, as it would help you to remember when to take the medication daily. It is important to note that after you start treatment with allopurinol, initially you may experience more attacks of gout as your body gets rid of the excess uric acid. People taking this medication should be aware of the fact that taking allopurinol does not help to provide relief from gout pain. In order to get relief from pain caused by gout, you should continue taking medications prescribed for gout attacks, such as ibuprofen, colchicines, indomethacin, as directed by your doctor. In the event of your condition remaining the same or deteriorating even after taking allopurinol for a while, tell your doctor about the problem.
In case you miss a dose of allopurinol, take it immediately when you remember. However, if it is almost time for the subsequent dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing program. Never ever take a double dose of the medication with a view to make up for the missed dose. Taking a lower dose of the medication or taking it in excess than what has been prescribed may result in adverse after-effects or aggravate the side effects of using allopurinol.
Patients taking allopurinol may be required to undergo regular or periodical medical/ laboratory examinations, such as uric acid blood levels, liver and kidney functioning tests, complete blood count and so on, with a view to monitor the improvement of their condition or ensure for the side effects. In this case, the patients should share the results of the tests with their doctor and consult their doctor for further details.
In the event you are taking allopurinol to treat kidney stones, you are likely to gain from a special diet. Hence, it is advisable that you consult your doctor regarding the type of diet you should take.
Allopurinol is known to work by interfering with the action of the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which is essential for the production of uric acid in the body. By obstructing the actions of this enzyme, allopurinol helps to decrease the uric acid levels in the blood and, thereby, helps to prevent and cure gout.
As is the case with most drugs, allopurinol is also known to interact with certain medications, including herbal products and/ or minerals and, hence, they should never be taken all together. This medication is also known to interact with alcohol use and certain foods.
Acerola, which has rich vitamin C content, should not be used while taking allopurinol. Similar to acerola, inosine may also augment the uric acid levels in the body and, hence, it should be avoided. People enduring gout should also avoid aspen, while lipase may further aggravate gout. On the other hand, there is not enough data to substantiate that goutweed is effective in easing the symptoms of gout.
People suffering from gout need to talk to their doctor regarding diets that have low purine content and ought to avoid foods, such as lentil, liver, anchovies and so on. People taking low protein diet may have enhanced risk of toxicity if the dosage of the medication is not reduced. Since consumption of alcoholic beverages have the aptitude to aggravate the symptoms of gout, it is best to avoid them completely.
It is not advisable to stop taking allopurinol all of a sudden and without consulting your doctor. Patients enduring seizure disorder should gradually decrease the dose of this medication prior to discontinuing it. Consult your doctor regarding the proper and safe manner of discontinuing this medication.
Allopurinol is available in tablet form and should always be stored at room temperature ranging between 15°C and 25°C (59°F and 77°F). This medication should be kept in a container that is moisture proof and light-resistant. The powder form of the medication should be stored at temperatures ranging between 20°C and 25°C (68°F and 77°F). Remember, this medication, especially the powder form, should never be stored in a refrigerator. All medications ought to be kept in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets.
When the medication becomes outdated or is needed no longer discard it in an appropriate and safe manner. Unless instructed otherwise, never dispose of the medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into the drain. If needed, talk to your pharmacist or your neighbourhood disposal company regarding the safe method to discard the unwanted products.