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BlueHeather profile image
18 Replies

Hi everyone - a newbie here. Hoping someone can perhaps help here. Diagnosed with COPD about 18 months ago after wrongly being diagnosed with Asthma about 5 years ago, am on on Serevent 2 puffs a morning and 2 at night and also more recently Spiriva about 9 months ago after a bad flare up. My question is this - anyone on these meds have bad leg cramps? I always had the odd cramp and I do mean odd - maybe every 6 months but recently getting them almost nightly. Alos getting terrible phlegm at the back of my throat every morning which seems to lat until about lunchtime or so. just cannot seem to clear it. not coughing up just seems to be hanging there...yuck!! Anyone have similar issues?

18 Replies

Hi and welcome to the group..I haven't had trouble with cramp but phlegm in the morning yes someone recommended one of those V pillows the keep you upright at night and that helped a bit maybe you could give this a try.Ger

skischool profile image

Can't help with the phlegm,but plenty of people on the site will give good advice.

i suffered from nightly leg cramps and these have been totally eradicated by taking 300mg of quinine sulphate per night as prescribed by my Gp.

regards Ski's and scruffs

Tilantoe profile image

The medication causes cramps unfortunately

peege profile image

Hello, welcome to the British Lung foundation patients forum.

As Skis mentioned above, quinine is excellent for the cramps. He gets his from the GP so that's an avenue to explore.

Tonic water contains quinine, I buy the Feverfew brand (sorry BLF to advertise but it's the only one I know of that contains natural quinine). If your GP isn't forthcoming try it. It comes in bottles, I get it in mini cans for using during Pilates class when I occasionally get cramp in my insteps.

Whilst on Seretide 250 I got foot cramps all the time, horrendous. The feet went in to spasm and toes were splayed and bent like claws so I totally sympathise. Since changing to Fostair I rarely get cramp at all.

Good luck. P

HungryHufflepuff profile image

I buy the Fevertree tonic water too. I get terrible cramps day and night , I’ve been on Fostair for several months and still get the cramps which are so painful. Someone (sorry I can’t remember who) said put a bar of soap in bed by your feet, it helps. I must admit I thought this was nonsense but I tried it anyway because nothing else has helped and I was desperate and amazingly it works!! I still get cramps but nowhere near as frequent. I’m thinking of trying a soap to the soles of my feet like platform shoes 😁

Kristicats profile image
Kristicats in reply to HungryHufflepuff


BlueHeather profile image

Thanks everyone for your replies........ will speak with my GP about the quinine. Although not sure about the block of soap n the bed LOL.... so restless I would kick it out in no time!

HungryHufflepuff profile image
HungryHufflepuff in reply to BlueHeather

I am ridiculously restless in bed too. I use a sleeping bag because I kick all the bedding off in my sleep. At least that way I’ve still got one thing covering me. Even so I often kick the sleeping bag so much the zip comes undone to the bottom. Putting the soap in the sleeping bag keeps it near my feet until I kick the zip open and kick the soap across the room.

BlueHeather profile image
BlueHeather in reply to HungryHufflepuff

aww bless......... at the age where a sleeping bag would kill me with hot sweats!!!!! I wonder whether slivers of soap in a sock on each foot may help. silly but who knows!!! Willing to try anything . I worry about my neighbour thinking hubby killing me sometimes I screech so much with the cramp!

HungryHufflepuff profile image
HungryHufflepuff in reply to BlueHeather

The slivers of soap might work, you could try it. Seriously I thought the soap thing was nuts, but it really works. I have no idea how or why. I don’t know if it’s something in the soap, I suppose it must be, that helps to prevent the cramp.

gerrytlloyd profile image

I wrote you a long answer and clicked Reply but this website then forced me to log in and the reply has vanished. In a nutshell, athletes have long known to take Magnesium supplement for calf cramps. A good supplement is made by Solgar and is called 'Calcium, Magnesium plus Zinc.' There are others but I haven't always felt as confident about their efficacy. Originally, dolomite tablets used to work well but have been banned in the US for lead content, and have recently become scarce here too. The reason why magnesium helps is because the microfilaments in skeletal muscle have a motor protein that slides them past each other. Millions of microfilaments sliding past each other adds up to a muscle contraction. It's a cyclic reaction and the filaments won't slide back again if the motor protein reaction cannot occur due to a lack of Mg++.

p.s. I use Serevent at night when I need it. I only take one puff in any day because it comes in a powdery vehicle and that causes me to have wheezing if I take two doses daily. I recently did seem to get more calf cramps at night so maybe there's a connection. Might simply be that one is more active physically when asthma isn't slowing you down - therefore using the leg muscles more.

p.p.s. Used to get the cramps at night some time after playing squash - the leg muscles get a sudden burst of activity during a squash game.

p.p.p.s. Only need a couple of Calcium, Magnesium plus Zinc per week. The bottle contains 100 tablets. Three tablets provide 400mg magnesium.

BlueHeather profile image
BlueHeather in reply to gerrytlloyd

WOW thanks Gerry for the long reply - sorry it did one before for you.... sods law,. Will look into what you said about the Solgar. Yes have read about quinine. think I would have to drink a hell of a lot of g&t's for tonic water to have any effect. My issues are COPD related. Not happy with one of the inhalers I have so speaking with the COPD nurse about it to see abut changing. I wonder too about the upping in exercise, have been going to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation gym for the past several weeks and doing well but am upping what I do on the treadmill and bike...... I am far from fit and athletic but am enjoying this. ..maybe my body i s telling me off!!

gerrytlloyd profile image

another p.s. I just spotted this when googled 'tonic water magnesium' : Today, quinine is rarely used for medicinal purposes. The FDA recently banned its use as a cure for leg cramps due to the negative side effects that can result from ingesting large amounts, such as headaches and fever. Some bad reactions to quinine have even been fatal.

gerrytlloyd profile image
gerrytlloyd in reply to gerrytlloyd

Yes, your extra activity has been using up your Mg++. Holland and Barrett also sell it in combination with calcium and zinc etc. It's expensive if you buy it solo and that's not necessary. When I was in South Africa, a friend of my parents always praised me to the ends because I had recommended Dolomite to her and it worked. Dolomite was mostly, calcium, magnesium and zinc, I think.

Kristicats profile image

I get terrible leg, foot and toe cramps since being on fostair and Spiriva inhalers. Even worse after a shift with flat shoes on. Tonic water doesn’t work for me.

Bkin profile image

Welcome Blue Heather,

From experience I have found ventolin / salbutamol and formeterol fumerate inhaler meds cause cramping.

If you are dehydrated you can get cramps so drinking plenty of water will be a good way to stay hydrated and help with keeping mucus thin and easier to cough up at the same time.

As suggested already quinine in tonic water is said to help.

I have noticed on my new Relvar inhaler I am getting more cramps again and more claggy throat. I take carbocisteine (prescribed) for thinning the mucus as well as drinking plenty of water.

Beside my bed I always have a pot of Vicks vapo rub, if I get a cramp during the night or any time, I immediately rub vicks into the muscle, toe, foot wherever and the cramping goes away relatively quickly......

Gawd I hate that one where the big toe fixes in the upright position thinking its a Nasa rocket..........

BlueHeather profile image
BlueHeather in reply to Bkin

Not heard of the Vicks.... but did red about rubbing it on the soles of feet for a cough. old wives tale - who knows!! Oh yes the toe which looks like it's been on Viagra!!!! Had that a couple of times. I did wonder about trying to cut back on the inhalers and see how my breathing goes.. will see. Thanks for reply. Will also up my water intake see if that helps. Love the 'claggy' and that is just what the back of my throat is like in a morning. Hence me thinking that it is the Serevent.

Bkin profile image
Bkin in reply to BlueHeather

ha ha Vicks its said, also good for arthritic pain, I try anything and have to say it does ease arthritic pain and muscle cramps, a podiatrist once told me that if you get night cramps rub the vick on the soles of the feet to help prevent the cramping, just don't go skidding off your flip flops ha ha

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