Q Health Flash STAY UPDATED WITH THE LATEST MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS n o i t s e u Q d o o G What can I do to prevent nighttime leg cramps? Nighttime leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions in the calf, feet, and thigh muscles that tend to occur more often with age. Often, leg cramps develop for no apparent reason, but there are factors that may increase your risk: Heavy alcohol consumption, dehydration, sitting too long, prolonged standing, deficiencies in magnesium, calcium and other nutrients, and use of certain medications, such as diuretics and statin drugs. Stay well hydrated, and keep your bed covers loose, so they don’t press down on your feet and tighten your lower leg muscles. Before you go to bed, take a warm bath or shower. Massage your leg muscles, or ride a stationary bike for a few minutes. Also, try stretching your leg muscles. Sit with your legs extended and your knees straight. Grab the end of your foot and pull it toward you. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, and do two to four repetitions with each foot. How effective is capsaicin as a pain reliever? A pplying capsaicin (often found in pain-relieving gels) to the skin can be effective in reducing pain caused by shingles, diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions. Capsaicin is made from the seeds of chilli peppers. It can irritate the skin and cause a burning sensation that some people cannot tolerate, especially during the first few weeks of use. For most people, getting used to the substance and determining its effectiveness takes three or four weeks.