Restless Leg Syndrome
There are two types of RLS or restless leg syndrome - namely primary RLS and secondary RLS.
The first type – primary RLS - seems to appear without any reason and often in young people. The symptoms can be quite mild but can worsen with age. After the age of 50, such symptoms can often become more severe so that sleep is severely disrupted. This primary RLS does appear to run in families so there is a genetic connection.
The second type – secondary RLS – is usually caused by other conditions. Such conditions include:
- Being low in iron (being anemic). If the levels of iron or the anemia itself can be corrected, there is often a reduction in symptoms.
- Pregnancy. Fortunately RLS is usually a temporary symptom when linked to pregnancy (usually in the third trimester) and will disappear after the baby has been delivered.
- Kidney problems or kidney disease.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Thyroid problems such as an over active or under active thyroid.
- Spinal cord tumors, peripheral nerve lesions or even spinal cord injuries.
- Sleep apnea.
- Varicose veins or problems with the nerves in either the hands or the feet.
- Certain medications or drugs may increase or trigger RLS symptoms. These include tricyclic antidepressants, anti-nausea and anti-seizure drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or lithium. Changing your medication may be all that is necessary to stop the RLS symptoms.
- The use of some cold and allergy drugs can also cause RLS.
- The withdrawal of sedatives can trigger RLS.
If you are suffering from RLS, then you would be wise to get a positive diagnosis from your doctor and to discuss with him whether this could be a secondary RLS caused by one of the conditions listed above. Together you can eliminate one by one all possible conditions which could be affecting you. It could be that it is primary RLS and you have a family history with such a medical condition.
RLS can also occur in children where a diagnosis can be especially difficult because the doctor has to rely on the child’s description of what he feels and experiences. Such symptoms may well be difficult for a child to describe and so often the condition is misdiagnosed as growing pains or even attention deficit disorder.
The symptoms of RLS are:
- Painful or uncomfortable sensations in the legs making you feel that you have to move the legs to get relief
- Sometimes these sensations are described as if there are insects crawling inside the legs or as burning, creeping or tugging feelings.
- These sensations can vary from discomfort to being really painful.
- The urge to get up and move around even when you are trying to rest or to sleep.
- The feeling of discomfort increasing during the evening or at night.
- The onset of the symptoms when you sit or lie down.
- Your feet or toes may even move slightly or jerk when you are sitting still or resting.
- For many people, the symptoms disappear by early morning so that you are able to catch up on some refreshing sleep. If this is the case, try to alter your daily routine so that you can sleep later in the morning.
- If you don’t get enough sleep, exhaustion can result and the quality of life can be severely affected.
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More RLS Articles:
Restless Legs Syndrome in Pregnancy
Sleep and RLS