By Dr. Peter Kadile
Dr. K, I have been having a lot of leg cramps lately, especially at night. I’ve started to take some potassium supplements, but the cramps continue. Anything else I can try? –Terry, Indio
Terry, leg cramps or muscle cramps in general, can have many causes, but they can commonly be caused by poor hydration and/or mineral deficiencies. Drinking enough water is the first thing you should try. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages can also cause dehydration, so try and avoid them if cramping continues. It has become common knowledge that low potassium may cause muscle cramps, but if supplementing with potassium doesn’t work, you should also try magnesium.
Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Low levels of magnesium can contribute to muscle cramping. Magnesium supplements are over the counter. I generally recommend starting with 300mg once to twice a day for leg cramps. Taking too much magnesium may cause diarrhea.
Dr. Kadile, I got the flu shot this year, but I still got the flu. What’s up with that? –Roger, Thousand Palms
Roger, the flu shot is not 100% effective in preventing the flu. Its effectiveness varies every year, but generally it is only @ 60% effective. With this current flu season, estimates are showing that the current flu vaccine is only @23% effective. Every year a panel of experts decide on which flu strains may become predominant and formulate the vaccine. The experts make a scientific prediction on which flu strains will need to be vaccinated against. They of course don’t always get it right and sometimes the flu virus can mutate and change, rendering the vaccine ineffective.
Dr. Kadile, whenever I got a cold as a kid, my mom would always give me chicken soup. She said the soup would cure my cold, is there any truth to that? –Woodrow, Desert Hot Springs
Woodrow, there actually has been some scientific research showing that, yes, chicken soup may be effective against cold and flu symptoms. The ingredients in chicken soup have anti-inflammatory properties and can slow the movement of cells which can cause the inflammatory symptoms such as congestion and cough. Chicken soup can also speed up mucus movement, which can decrease congestion and decrease the time the cold virus is in contact with the lining of your nose. So rest, drink fluids and eat your chicken soup.
Dr. Peter, my daughter was sent home from school because she has “pink eye”. I was told she had to see a doctor, but by the time I could get an appointment for her, the redness in her eye was gone. Should she still see the doctor? –Betty, Rancho Mirage
Betty, “pink eye” (conjunctivitis) is the common name given to redness or inflammation to the conjunctiva or whites of the eyes. The condition can be caused by viruses, bacteria or allergies. It is most commonly caused by a virus, and like a cold, will usually resolve on its own in a few days to a week. Usually viral conjunctivitis is associated with increased watery discharge, whereas bacterial conjunctivitis may have thick green or yellow discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic eye drops or ointment for treatment. Pink eye is contagious and is commonly transmitted when an infected person rubs his/her eye and then touches someone and that person then rubs his/her eye. That is why it is much more common in young children who don’t usually wash their hands.
If your daughter’s eyes are no longer red and without any discharge, than she likely had a viral or allergy “pink eye” that got better on its own but if she is complaining of eye pain, than she should still see the doctor.