Our expert says:
Quinine is indeed effective in treating nocturnal leg cramps.
However, the latest drug safety updates recommends that Quinine should not be considered a routine treatment for nocturnal leg cramps, and that it should only be considered when cramps cause regular disruption of sleep. Before use for nocturnal leg cramps, the risks should be carefully considered relative to the potential benefits.
After an initial trial of 4 weeks, treatment should be stopped if there is no benefit. If it is prescribed for long-term use, it is suggested that treatment should be interrupted approximately every 3 months to reassess the medications benefit. Also: In patients taking quinine long term, a trial discontinuation may be considered to evaluate if treatment is still needed.
Quinine tablets are generally well tolerated at the doses used for treatment of leg cramps. However, adverse events may include tinnitus, impaired hearing, headache, nausea, disturbed vision, confusion, flushing, and abdominal pain. Treatment should be stopped if these occur.
With long-term use it is furthermore important to stop treatment and consult a physician if signs of thrombocytopenia occur, such as unexplained petechiae, bruising, or bleeding.
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