Restless Leg Syndrome
Why and What to do?
Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS, has been described as the irresistable urge to move legs to stop odd sensations. These sensations can be jerky, tickley, itchy, uncomfortable and
in some cases even painful.
The symptoms occur mostly at night and whilst RLS is not life threatening it can seriously disrupt sleep.
For this reason alone it is worthwhile to look into possible causes and methods of achieving relief and a good nights sleep.
The exact cause is unknown but it is believed to be due to an imbalance of a chemical in the brain called dopamine.
During the day and early evening levels of dopamine decline, the main reason why restless leg syndrome worsens at night.
RLS can be divided into Two Groups
- Primary: These symptoms are usually mild and infrequent and can often be relieved by simple lifestyle changes.
- Secondary: Secondary symptoms can arise due to complications caused by other health issues, deficient levels of iron, Parkinsons, anaemia and renal(kidney) disfunction.
Many people with restless leg syndrome have found the following lifestyle changes very helpful. In some cases these suggestions have been sufficient to eliminate the symptoms.
- Avoid stimulants, coffee, tobacco and alchohol especially before going to bed.
- Stop smoking
- Incorporate a little daily exercise into your routine.
- A regular sleep pattern is important. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time.
- Check any medication that could trigger restless legs.
Other suggestions to relieve symptoms are taking a warm bath in the evening, stretching or massaging the legs. A hot or cold compress can help and above all relax with a book or music before going to bed.
Medication for RLS
If none of these suggestions bring relief or you think that there might be an underlying cause for the symptoms of RSL then consult your doctor immediately. There are medications for restless leg syndrome that can be prescribed by your doctor. These are called dopamine agonists which increase the low level of dopamine in the brain believed to be one of the main causes of Restless legs.
The Importance of Sleep!
Some people feel that RLS is not serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. However we should not under estimate the effect of sleepless nights on our daily lives. Poor sleep or lack of sleep can make us tired, irritable, unconcentrated and eventually undermine our health.
Try out the suggestions above and if nothing helps speak to your doctor.
Sweet Dreams !
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