Restless Legs Syndrome

rlsWhat is RLS?

Ask yourself the following questions: Do you stay up at night because you feel like you have to move your legs? Do you wake up at night because you feel like your legs are on fire? When you are trying to go to sleep, do you feel an itching in your legs, which goes away if you walk around, but if you lie down it comes back?

 

If you have said yes to any of the above questions, you may have Restless Legs Syndrome.

 

Many people wait years to seek treatment and wish they would have talked to a health care provider earlier. Call us now to book an appointment with our professional team.

 

Restless Legs Syndrome happens when you feel an overwhelming urge to move your legs while trying to fall asleep. You may also feel burning or itching inside your legs. These uncomfortable feelings may stop for a short time if you walk around. Usually, the feelings are worse at night than in the morning. Some people only have symptoms at night.

 

What Causes RLS?

 

Restless Legs Syndrome can be cause by or made worse by other health issues or medications. Some of the most frequent causes include:

 

Low Iron Levels: Low iron levels can cause problems with brain cell communication that can lead to RLS. If you think your RLS is caused by low iron, do not take supplements until you are advised by your health care provider.

 

Diabetes: Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves that affect leg muscles, which can cause RLS. Making sure that your diabetes is well treated may help prevent or improve your RLS.

 

Pregnancy: Many women have RLS during their pregnancy. It usually goes away within a month of giving birth. Make sure to speak to your health care provider if it persists beyond giving birth.

 

Medications: The following medications may cause RLS or make it worse; allergy medications, many antidepressants, over the counter sleep-aids, anti-nausea medications.

 

Who is at risk for Restless Legs Syndrome?

  • Women are up to twice as likely than men to have RLS.
  • People over the age of 45.
  • Family members with RLS. You are more likely to develop RLS if you have family members with it.
  • Often, the causes of RLS are unknown.

 

How do you know if you have Restless Legs Syndrome?

Your health care provider will ask you about your medical history. He can refer you to a sleep specialist, such as ours, if necessary. Talk to your health care provider if you think you have RLS. A sleep study can help rule out other sleep disorders and also help to diagnose RLS by showing muscle activity throughout the night.

 

What are the consequences of untreated RLS?

If left untreated, you may notice that your RLS symptoms become more frequent and severe over months or years. Sometimes people with RLS have trouble sitting still for long periods of time & have difficulties sitting through a long car or plane ride.

 

People with RLS often get fewer hours of sleep than they need or have a poor quality of sleep. There are many problems that can occur if you do not get enough sleep on a regular basis.

 

How is Restless Legs Syndrome treated?

RLS can be improved by changes in behaviour or treated with medication. Always speak to your sleep specialist before trying treatments on your own.

Some behavioural changes that can help RLS include:

  • Exercising
  • Reducing stress
  • Drinking less caffeine
  • Not drinking alcohol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Massaging your legs

There are many medications available to treat RLS. People may take one medication or a combination to treat their disorder. RLS medications may improve your symptoms for a period of time but can also stop working as well as they once did. It is important to stay in contact with your sleep specialist if you have problems with your medications.

 

Contact us today if you think you may have Restless Legs Syndrome.

 

Source: The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine- www.aasmnet.org (RLS brochure)

 

 

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