Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leg Cramps Killing You?

Okay, on a more serious note today, there is a way leg cramps could kill you. Unfortunately, the prescription drug, quinine sulfate, that has been used off-label for decades as an effective cure for nighttime leg cramps is once again having continued reports of serious side effects- from bleeding to kidney damage to death.

If you are taking this medication and you notice bleeding gums, easy bruising,or blood in your urine- go immediately to your doctor and she will need to check your blood count, with special attention to your platelets (the team members that cause your blood to clot.)

So, what are you to do if you swear by this drug? First of all, please discuss it with your doctor. Make sure you have been recently checked for low iron stores (a ferritin level) to be sure that isn't the real cause of your leg pain. Your physician will examine you and possibly check a few blood tests.

If all is normal, here is one alternative medicine thing to try. Don't laugh (although I did chuckle when my dear patient first told me about this!). Try sleeping with a bar of soap. Yes. What brand? Whichever one you prefer. There are actually a few scientific studies that have shown promise with this, though I'll be the first to say I wont expect this to help everyone. On the plus side, though, there are no serious negative side effects from sleeping with a bar of soap under your pillow or covers!

BOTTOM LINE: If you take quinine for leg cramps, it's time for another discussion with your doctor!

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