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A collection of symptoms generally described as unpleasant sensations and an urge to move the lower legs, RLS is indicated by:
Symptoms of RLS affect people differently. They can occur only occasionally, in certain situations or frequently. They can range from mild to intolerable. RLS can start at any age, but most people are middle-aged or older.
Researchers don't know the cause of RLS, but they suspect a combination of factors. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which influence nerve cells, are probably involved. There also seems to be a genetic link; a person with a family history of RLS may develop the condition earlier than someone with no family history of it. RLS can result from other neurological diseases, kidney dialysis, pregnancy, chronic diseases such as Parkinson's disease, iron deficiency, certain medications, alcohol and caffeine.
If you have another condition such as a neurological disease that causes symptoms similar to RLS, this condition should be treated. Your health care provider may change medications that could cause RLS symptoms. Your provider may order a blood test to determine if you have iron deficiency.
Maintaining good sleep and healthy lifestyle habits can help relieve symptoms:
Medications can be prescribed if the above measures don't work. Ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex) are both approved by the FDA to treat RLS. They raise the level of dopamine, a naturally occurring brain chemical that plays a part in controlling movement. Other drugs that raise dopamine levels are sometimes prescribed. Sleep aids like Ambien or Lunesta may help you sleep, but will not relieve RLS symptoms. You may have to try several different medications to find something that adequately treats your symptoms. Over time, you may find that a medication stops working or does not work as well. If this happens, your healthcare provider can prescribe a different medication.
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