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News 8 On Call: Answering questions from a viewer about Restless Legs Syndrome

Health

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Aaron from Hamden, CT tweeted to News 8, asking about Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS.

First thing he wanted to know was:

What is RLS?

Dr. Brian Koo, Director of the Yale Medicine Program for Restless Legs Syndrome, says it’s a neurologic sleep disorder, “Some people will describe a creepy crawly sensation or a sensation that ants are in the legs but the essence of restless leg syndrome is really the urge to move, and they just have to move.”

Disrupting sleep for people diagnosed with it.

Also on Aaron’s mind:

What causes it?

Dr. Koo answers, “The more common type of restless legs or primary legs syndrome, we don’t exactly know what causes it. It might be related to iron deficiency either in the body or more specifically in the brain. Secondary restless leg is restless leg that occurs in conjunction with another disorder such as Parkinson’s Disorder.”

What about treatment?

There are three classes of medications that can be prescribed.

He says, “We don’t have a cure for restless legs unfortunately. All our treatments are aimed at decreasing the symptoms and hopefully allow sleep at night.”

First though Dr. Koo rules out other factors.

He explains, “A lot of what I do when I initially see a patient is to make sure they don’t drink a lot of caffeine. They’re not drinking a lot of alcohol, that they’re not taking certain over the counter medications like Benadryl, that can make restless legs worse.”

One more question from Aaron:

“Is this something that I would have for the rest of my life?”

“If it were primary,” says Dr. Koo, “What we call primary idiopathic restless leg, which is more a common type of restless legs, it unfortunately might be something that a person would have for the rest of their life.”

Dr. Koo points out restless legs does have the tendency to get worse with age, and that women are more at risk for restless legs, compared to men, often striking women between ages 15 to 30.

If you have a health question — be sure to send it to News8OnCall@wtnh.com

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