Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Restless Legs Syndrome

Have you seen the ads on television for restless legs syndrome (RLS)? Although I’m in Canada, we get several US channels, so we get to watch US commercials.

My oldest son thought that RLS was a made-up disease but, it really does exist. And it’s awful for those who have it. It’s a neurological disorder that makes it so you have to move your legs, you can’t resist the urge to move them. Doctors are finding out more about the issue as well: Restless legs syndrome doubles risk of stroke and heart disease

According to the RLS Foundation, you must meet these four criteria to be diagnosed with RLS. Copied directly from their site:

· You have a strong urge to move your legs which you may not be able to resist. The need to move is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include: creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging, or gnawing.
· Your RLS symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.
· Your RLS symptoms get better when you move your legs. The relief can be complete or only partial but generally starts very soon after starting an activity. Relief persists as long as the motor activity continues.
· Your RLS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Activities that bother you at night do not bother you during the day.

While it may seem somewhat comical to some, an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, it can be a horrible thing to live with. If you think you have RLS, there are some medications that may help. The RLS Foundation also offers these non-pharmaceutical therapies that may provide some relief:

Again, copied directly from their website:

· Checking to see if there is an underlying iron or vitamin deficiency and then possibly supplementing your diet with iron, vitamin B12 or folate.
· Looking at medications you may be taking which make RLS worse. These may include drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions, nausea, colds, allergies and depression.
· Looking at any herbal and over-the-counter medicines you may be taking to see if they could be worsening your RLS.
· Identifying habits and activities that worsen RLS symptoms.
· Looking at your diet to assure it is healthy and balanced.
· Discussing whether or not antihistamines could be contributing to your RLS.
· Eliminating your alcohol intake.
· Looking at various activities that may help you personally deal with RLS. These could include walking, stretching, taking a hot or cold bath, massaging, acupressure, or relaxation techniques.
· Attempting to keep your mind engaged with activities like discussions, needlework or video games when you have to stay seated.
· Implementing a program of good sleep habits.
· Possibly eliminating caffeine from your diet to aid in general sleep hygiene.

News for Today:

Healing a holiday hangover: from rabbit turds to hair of the dog
Sleep disruptions may raise risk of diabetes: researchers
ER doctors give whites narcotics more often: study
Tonsillectomy significantly improves quality of life in adult and pediatric patients
A short-term dose of zolpidem is an effective treatment for insomnia
Restless legs syndrome doubles risk of stroke and heart disease

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