|Medical treatment for cramps and restless legs could be putting you at risk for fatal heart problems.|
|Written by Isabelle Z.|
|A new warning has been issued over quinine, a medicine and ingredient found in beverages like tonic water and bitter lemon.|
Long used as a drug for malaria, quinine is no longer a recommended treatment for any condition by the U.K.'s two major healthcare watchdogs. However, that hasn't stopped doctors in the country from issuing 3.5 million prescriptions for it every year to people who are suffering from issues like cramps, muscle discomfort and restless legs. Doctors are prescribing it off-label for such conditions, and in many cases, patients take it for several years.
|Watch out for tonic water, too|
|While drinking a few gin and tonics here and there might not be problematic on its own, those who are already taking quinine as a medicine need to watch their intake because it could heighten their risk even further. In rare cases, even the small amount found in tonic water could be enough to cause one of quinine’s most serious side effects, a severe drop in blood platelet counts that can cause external and internal bleeding. Another worrying side effect is permanent kidney damage.|
|Quinine banned in the U.S. as a treatment for leg cramps.|
|The FDA reports that quinine is responsible for 665 adverse events as well as 93 deaths. Doctors in the U.S. have been banned from prescribing it for nighttime leg cramps since 2010. The only condition it is approved to treat by the FDA is malaria, and even then, it is typically only used in cases where newer drugs are not effective.|
People suffering from restless kegs and cramps can try taking a vitamin B complex supplement instead, and stretching may also help, depending on the cause of the cramps.