In the last few years, people have been introduced to restless leg syndrome (RLS) mostly through commercials on television. Some were quick to dismiss the ads as an attempt by the pharmaceutical industry to sell drugs for a disease that doesn’t exist. But, according to CNN, “There are population studies that show varying prevalence rates of 5-15%, but only about 3% of adults and 0.5% of children have it often enough or severe enough to warrant treatment.”
Patients with RLS complain of strange and disturbing feelings usually in their lower legs that usually happen only when they are lying down trying to sleep or rest in the evening. In order to make th uncomfortable feelings go away, they rub their legs together or move them involuntarily. Once they stop moving the feeling returns. RLS is a dangerous disorder because it can lead to insomnia and, in severe cases, heart problems.
According to CNN, in patients with RLS, “There seems to be a dysregulation of dopamine, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter. RLS is greatly increased in patients with Parkinson’s disease, which involves a depletion of dopamine.” People with iron deficiency also frequently suffer from RLS because it impedes the body’s ability to synthesize dopamine.
These days, people with RLS don’t have to suffer. There is a wide-variety of prescription medications that can help relax their legs and help them sleep easier. For some, simple lifestyle changes can help them overcome RLS. Doctors recommend that quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and frequent exercise can help reverse RLS as well. People with RLS should also take a blood test to see if iron deficiency is causing their problems.