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Restless Legs Syndrome - What Your Doctor Doesn't Know

If you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), you know how emotionally and physically aggravating it can be. Annoyingly, this terrible affliction can rob you of your sleep and keep you awake long after you should have fallen into a peaceful night slumber. Those creepy crawly compulsive leg movements affect not only your nights but extends throughout your entire life.

Aching leg

Loss of your precious sleep decreases your enjoyment of life and affects not only your nights but your waking hours also because you are tired, cranky and struggle to stay conscious. You can't even focus throughout the day exhausted from lack of sleep. The tormenting twitching and need to kick your legs affects not only you but your spouse also. Either your spouse has moved to the couch or you have.

Likely, your doctor has prescribed you Mirapex or Requip for your restless leg syndrome (RLS.) These medications don't work for everyone and may have unpleasant side effects. The most common Mirapex side effects are nausea sleeplessness, constipation, involuntary movement, dizziness upon standing and hallucinations.

You've may have tried liniments, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and special teas to no avail. So what causes restless leg syndrome (RLS). The cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown but let's see if by looking at conditions associated with restless legs syndrome we can find a common factor and clue as to its cause.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states some conditions associated with restless legs syndrome (RLS) are pregnancy, obesity, smoking, iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, and kidney disease. Caffeine and alcohol have also been associated with restless legs syndrome (RLS.) Hypoxia is where the body or part of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia is where there is a lack of iron. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. A lack of oxygen is again, hypoxia.

In pregnancy there is almost a 50% increase in blood for the baby. Many times there is not enough iron available to keep up with this increased need and therefore approximately 20% of women end up with anemia. Anemia equals hypoxia.

There is also an association between obesity and hypoxia although it is not well understood. Do I need to tell you that smoking can cause hypoxia?

Iron deficiency anemia is also more common with hypothyroidism. Kidney disease and patients on dialysis are also carefully evaluated for, you guessed it anemia.

Did you know that the use of coffee and tea (caffeine) reduces the non heme iron absorption of a meal by approximately 50% and thereby once again causes anemia.

Alcohol in addition to being associated with anemia can cause clumping up of erythrocytes (red blood cells.) As the blood vessel get smaller and smaller the red blood cells can clog up and thereby cause a diminished oxygen delivery to the cells (hypoxia.)

Well, we have looked at several conditions or factors that can cause anemia and thereby cause hypoxia. Is there any scientific literature to more directly to support the issue of restless legs syndrome (RLS) and hypoxia.

An article entitled "Outcome of restless legs severity after continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) treatment in patients affected by the association of RLS and obstructive sleep apneas" from Sleep Medicine April 2006 concludes: Our findings suggest that not only fatigue and sleepiness but also the severity of RLS show a favorable response to CPAP in the group of patients with OSAS and RLS.

CPAP stands for continuous passive air pressure and OSAS stands for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Although a CPAP machine does not produce oxygen enriched air, it does produce more oxygen than not getting enough air of any kind at all as in the case of sleep apnea.

Here RLS is seen more frequently with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD (HYPOXIA?)

A Sleep Medicine November 2008 article entitled "Increased frequency of restless legs syndrome in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients" concludes: RLS is a frequent cause of disabling sleep disturbance in patients with COPD and should be specifically investigated in these patients. This time from the Canadian journal of neurological science July 2008. Conclusion: we conclude that RLS is frequent in COPD, particularly in patients with severe hypoxemia/hypercapnia and in late stages of the disease. Hypoxemia is low oxygen in the blood.

One more time! Sleep Medicine November 2008. Conclusions: RLS is a frequent cause of disabling sleep disturbance in patients with COPD and should be specifically investigated in these patients.


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