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Quinine Sulphate

Quinine Sulfate

Quinine Sulphate is a treatment prescribed for nocturnal leg cramps which cause sleep disruption. It is marketed by Actavis and is available as a 200mg tablet.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

31 August 2020
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 31 August 2020
Product information

Quinine Sulphate is a generic tablet treatment made by Actavis, and is used for the treatment of nocturnal leg cramps. It is only recommended for use in cases where discomfort is causing significant disruption to sleep patterns. The active ingredient in Quinine sulphate is an agent of the same name, and is only available to buy in the UK with a prescription from a registered doctor.

  1. Effective medication for leg cramps
  2. Relieve interrupted sleep patterns caused by this
  3. Simple to take

Nocturnal leg cramps are characterised by feelings of pain and tightness in the leg muscles during sleep, and accounts for around three quarters of all cases of leg cramps. It mostly affects the calf muscles but can occur in the thighs, and it can often have a disruptive influence on sleep. This in turn can have an adverse effect on a person’s ability to function the following day. When a person has had leg cramp, they may continue to feel discomfort and tenderness for the several hours which follow.

Though they are usually harmless and will in some cases pass without the need for medical intervention, some may find that they occur frequently and affect their ability to sleep on a recurring basis. In such cases, treatment may be advised. Those with leg cramps should also seek the opinion of a doctor if they notice the leg shrinking, or if their cramp does not go away after 10 minutes of exercising the leg.

Some people may find that they develop leg cramps after completing a circuit of exercise, or during pregnancy. Medications such as diuretics and statins may also induce leg cramps in a minority of cases.

In some cases, leg cramps can be caused by the presence of an underlying condition such as an infection or liver disease, or a neurological illness affecting the nerves in the legs. Dehydration can also be a cause, as can blood poisoning. Where an illness is responsible, a doctor treating the problem in these instances will try to eliminate the problem by addressing the underlying cause.

Cases of leg cramps however can often be idiopathic, or have no identifiable cause. Several theories have been put forward, including fluctuating nerve activity during sleep, or the shortening of tendons with age, as possible reasons why people experience nocturnal leg cramps more often the older they get.

A series of exercises to alleviate cramps may be suggested where primary idiopathic leg cramps are present. Getting up and walking around on your heels is one method of exercise, as is keeping the leg and raising the toes towards the shin, bending at the ankle. There are several exercises which can also be performed during the day to prevent cramps too, which a doctor may recommend.

To treat cases where exercise alone is not sufficient in alleviating symptoms, and severe disruption to sleep is being caused, a doctor may prescribe medication. Quinine Sulphate is a treatment which is thought to work by desensitising receptors in muscle cells, so that they aren’t as prone to stimulation from nerve signals. This then prevents cramp from occurring, but it can take up to four weeks before a noticeable difference is seen.

Please note that this medication is not available to buy through our site. Refer to your GP if you are developing symptoms, want to know more about treatment, or are seeking to renew your prescription.

Page last reviewed:  31/08/2020


To get the best possible results from this treatment, make sure you read the instructions in the patient information leaflet carefully and follow the directions given by your prescriber during use. This will also help you to limit the risk of side effects.

  1. Use as prescribed.
  2. For the treatment of nocturnal leg cramps, this may be one tablet taken before bedtime.
  3. Swallow the tablets whole with water.
  4. It may take up to four weeks before you notice any reduction in symptoms.
  5. Do not exceed the dose prescribed for you.
  6. Never make up for a missed dose with a double dose. If you forget to take it, skip the one you have missed and simply take your next dose at the scheduled time, and carry on the treatment as directed.

This is only a summary of the directions you will need to follow when using this product. For more detailed instructions, please refer to the leaflet supplied.

Download Quinine Sulphate 200mg patient information leaflet

Download Quinine Sulphate 300mg patient information leaflet

Page last reviewed:  31/08/2020
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Quinine Sulfate 200mg

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

If you experience any serious side effects, such as the following, seek medical attention at once: signs of an allergic reaction such as an itchy skin rash, swelling of the lips, face, throat or tongue, flushing, fever, asthma or sensitivity to light; cinchonism, which might include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, disturbed vision, headache, feeling or being sick, ringing in the ears or impaired hearing, rashes, loss of consciousness, fits, shock due to heart problems, or an irregular heartbeat; changes to blood cells, for instance if you notice that you are bruising or bleeding easily, have frequent nose bleeds, or you have more sore throats and infections than usual.

Let your doctor know if you experience any of the following: diarrhoea; feeling or being sick; abdominal pain; low blood sugar; muscle weakness; excitement; agitation; vertigo; confusion; loss of consciousness; coma; headache; changes in vision; ringing in the ears; loss of hearing; swollen, itchy, flaky, red or raised patches of skin; sensitivity to light; aggravation of Myasthenia gravis; kidney damage; water retention; slowed heart rate; changes in heart rhythm; eczema; difficulty breathing.

In higher concentrations, miscarriage has also been recorded as a possible side effect of this medicine.

The above is not a comprehensive list. More detailed information on side effects can be found in the leaflet supplied.


Taking it with other medicines

It is important to tell your doctor about any other treatments you are using during consultation, as these may affect your capacity to use this medication safely.

Quinine sulphate may be unsuitable for those who are taking: cardiac glycosides (such as digoxin); chloroquine, mefloquine, artemether with lumefantrine or primaquine; cimetidine; amantadine; ciclosporin; anticoagulants; flecainide, quinidine or amiodarone; terfenadine; pimozide or thioridazine; HIV medicines; moxifloxacin, rifampicin or antifungals; medicines to treat diabetes; suxamethonium; barbiturates, carbamazepine or phenytoin.

Conditions to look out for

The presence of certain conditions may make this treatment unsuitable for use.

Do not use it if you have any of the following: hypersensitivity to quinine, including that found in tonic waters or other beverages, or an allergy to any of the other ingredients; blood in your urine; ringing in your ears; muscle weakness; problems with your eyes or difficulty seeing.

It may also not be suitable for those who have: irregular heartbeat or other heart disease; had malaria for a long time; or severe glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD).

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

This medicine must not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant, speak to your GP about suitable treatment options.

Driving and using machinery

This medication may cause dizziness. If this affects you, do not drive or use machines and let your GP know.

Page last reviewed:  31/08/2020
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Quinine Sulfate 200mg


Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes, but it may be advisable to refrain from consuming too much alcohol if your sleep pattern is disrupted, as this may cause further sleeping problems.

Will I still be able to drive?

This tablet may inhibit your vision. It is vital to make sure that your sight is not affected before attempting to drive. If it is, refrain from driving and consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, discuss the use of this medication with your doctor.

How should I store it?

Keep it in a safe place below 25°C, out of the reach of children.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

This tablet contains: quinine sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate, povidone, microcrystalline cellulose (E460), croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated vegetable oil, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, medium chain triglycerides, macrogol 3350, and titanium dioxide (E171).

If you are allergic to any of the above, do not use this product.

Is it available over-the-counter?

You will need a prescription to be able to buy Quinine Sulphate from a UK pharmacy.

Is it right for me?

If you have never taken treatment for leg cramps before or are experiencing symptoms for the first time, you should see your doctor. They will be able to help you find the treatment you need.

We do not provide this treatment through our site.

Page last reviewed:  31/08/2020 is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 3209 customers on TrustPilot!
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