Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Foods Rich in Potassium Can Reduce Leg Cramps

Sometimes people can develop leg cramps from medications. This is an undesired adverse drug reaction. This is usually from a low potassium level in the blood and muscles. Really the only allergy or asthma medications that cause leg cramps are corticosteroids. These doses are high when inhaled (Advair 500/50, Symbicort 160/4.5) or by mouth (prednisone, Medrol (methylprednisolone)) or by injection (Kenalog, DepoMedrol, Decadron). I have never seen a corticosteroid nose spray or corticosteroid skin cream cause leg cramps. The options are: 1) put up with it; 2) reduce or stop the medication causing the reaction; 3) eat foods containing potassium which will raise blood levels of potassium. After discussing these options with my patients, if the original problem that required the corticosteroids is still active, then we often opt for 3).
Which foods are rich in potassium, with less sodium? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has complied a list. Here is a shorter version of the list. There are other lists available on the Internet, but I find them harder to understand. The commonest answer is bananas. This is an urban myth. They are not bad, but they are not the best. I'll compare bananas to one other palatable alternative to me, raisins. The average banana contains 422 mg potassium, whereas 1 cup of raisins contains 1,086 mg of potassium. Which ever potassium-rich food you choose, remember it is essential to chose one with low sodium content. One banana has 1 mg of sodium. One cup of raisins contains 40 mg of sodium. Both have very low fat and cholesterol content. I like the taste of raisins much more, so I recommend raisins. My family and office staff are used to seeing me eat raisins nearly every day with breakfast and lunch.

From the shorter list above, you can see that healthy foods all contain some potassium. It is good for you even if you don't have leg cramps or aren't taking corticosteroids. I eat foods rich in potassium daily, as follows: 1 cup of raisins, 1/3 cup of spinach, and sometimes orange juice. If you have questions about potassium-rich foods, ask your doctor or consult with an American Dietetic Association certified nutritionist.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I get leg cramps after any sort of antihistamine found in all kinds of products now a days, ie: allergy, sleep, heartburn, cold meds, etc., I have found this out the hard way each time, it takes a while to accumulate or cause my leg cramps but boy is it awful, hard to sleep, concentrate, walk, drive do anything without thinking about the leg cramps, it actually affects my arms too but mostly my legs are the target. It takes time to get it out of the system after I stop taking said med. Most of the time, now, it shocks me when it happens like with the hearburn med and recently I have a culprit, that is why I am on this sight now and on the www I have to investigate what is causing it, so I have discontinued anything that could be so I can check it out. I also have leg cramps from products that have antihistamine properties but are not antistamine. No amount of Foods rich in Potassium have ever touched this terrible pain, I really wish it would though, even stretching, exercising, spa, trigger point therapy. It always comes down to antihistamines. If you are caught in a cycle of it, lets say Tylenol PM, you have no idea, you can't sleep it gets worse, you keep taking it unaware as I did. You just want the pain to stop and get some sleep but you are in a catch when you have no idea. I appreciate Dr. Kao helping people with this, maybe my input might help someone else. My doctors are all aware of my perplexing reaction to antihistamines and now to never prescribe anything with antihistamine for me even though I still ask or remind them if I remember but I still have to read up on everything, check ingredients and be aware of products that act like an antihistamine like what I am going through now. I wish good health to all. Carrie

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.
My Zimbio Medicine Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory