The Relationship Of Restless Legs Syndrome With Diabetes

Restless Legs Syndrome is a common condition that affects the nervous system. It results in uncomfortable sensations that cause an overwhelming urge to move the legs. The creeping sensations may result in symptoms that vary from mild to unbearable. These are often worse when at rest or in the evening which causes disturbances to sleeping patterns. Diabetes can be a cause of Restless Legs Syndrome, as can several other chronic diseases.

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. Blood sugar is the main source of energy and it is from the food you eat. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps sugar from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes, people call Diabetes a touch of sugar. This term suggests that someone does not have Diabetes or has a less serious case, but each case of Diabetes is serious.

Restless Legs Syndrome and Diabetes

Uncontrolled high blood sugar in people with diabetes can cause nerve damage and might to diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Damage to the nerves of the lower leg and feet from peripheral neuropathy is a contributor to Restless Legs Syndrome. Previous studies have shown that Restless Legs Syndrome is common in patients with type-II diabetes. These patients can also suffer poor quality sleep believed to be linked with impaired glucose metabolism.

There are two categories of Restless Legs Syndrome:

1. Primary restless legs syndrome has no known cause, even though doctors suspect that genes can play a role, and frequently starts before the age of 40.

2. Secondary restless leg typically affects people over 40. It is along with several reasons that may worsen the symptoms such as:

  • Chronic health conditions – such as diabetes, iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, an underactive thyroid gland, and kidney failure.
  • Pregnancy – restless leg syndrome may be experienced in the final trimester, mainly from week 27. In various cases, symptoms frequently go away within 4 weeks after delivery.
  • Side effects of medication – such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, dopamine antagonists, and some allergy medicines which may worsen symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome.

Treatment For The Symptoms

While there is no cure, there are several ways in which treatments can control the condition and make life easier for patients. The treatment of primary restless leg syndrome is focused on easing the symptoms with a variety of self-management techniques such as:

  • Establishing regular sleep patterns. Avoid evening naps and go to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Have a change of lifestyle. You can cut out alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  • Starting a regular exercise routine. Do not exercise before bedtime.
  • Warm baths and leg massages.

The goal of treating secondary restless leg syndrome is to target the underlying cause. Certain medications are useful in easing moderate to severe symptoms. These medications may include:

  • Gabapentin – an anticonvulsant that relieves pain
  • Benzodiazepines – a class of sedatives that helps with sleep
  • Dopamine agonists – dopamine levels are thought to be lacking in people with restless leg syndrome

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