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Causes of RLS

In most cases, the cause of RLS is unknown (this is referred to as idiopathic). A family history of the condition is seen in approximately 50 percent of idiopathic cases, which suggests a genetic form of the disorder. People with familial RLS tend to be younger when symptoms begin and they tend to have a slower progression of the condition.
In other cases, RLS appears to be related to the following factors or conditions:
  • People with low iron levels or anemia may be prone to developing RLS. After correcting iron levels or anemia, these people may see a reduction in symptoms.
  • Chronic diseases, such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and peripheral neuropathy, are associated with RLS. Treating the underlying condition often provides relief from associated symptoms.
  • Some pregnant women experience RLS, especially in their last trimester. However, symptoms usually disappear within four weeks after delivery.
  • Certain medications, such as anti-nausea drugs (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antiseizure drugs (phenytoin or droperidol), antipsychotic drugs (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), and some cold and allergy medications, may aggravate symptoms. People should talk with their physician about the possibility of changing medications in this case.
  • Research scientists also have found that caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may aggravate or trigger symptoms in people who are predisposed to developing RLS. Some studies have shown that a reduction or complete elimination of such substances may relieve symptoms, although it remains unclear whether elimination of such substances can prevent symptoms from occurring.
(Click Restless Legs Syndrome Causes for more information.)
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Information About RLS

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