Also known as "impatience of the legs" or Willis-Ekbom disease , restless legs syndrome affects 2% to 3% of the French population daily. And more than 8% sporadically.
The unpleasant sensations felt in the lower limbs (and sometimes in the arms too) range from simple itching to painful electrical discharge . Difficult then to sleep, even to relax in a sofa.
Getting up and walking is the only way to neutralize the gene. And when people finally fall into the arms of Morpheus, their sleep is not recovering because their legs fidget relentlessly all night.
Restless legs: an iron deficiency often involved
It has been shown that this hyperactivity of the legs is often associated with iron deficiency. The latter particularly affects regions of the brain where there are neurons that secrete dopamine, a neuro-hormone involved in movement control and pain perception. Faced with restless legs, we must start by looking for a possible iron deficiency. A blood test is enough. If the iron level is insufficient, supplementation for a few months can significantly reduce the problem.
According to neurologist Imad Ghorayeb, " Diabetes , chronic renal failure or taking certain medications ( antidepressants , neuroleptics) is also likely to trigger or worsen the symptoms." In predisposed individuals, excessive consumption of food containing xanthines (coffee, chocolate and tea ) is sometimes also the cause of restless legs syndrome.
As this disease is influenced by female hormones, it can occur during menopause or in the last months of pregnancy.
Sport and proper nutrition to reduce discomfort
When the disease is benign, limit the excitants (coffee, white wine ...) and practice regular physical activity can be enough to soothe impatience. Walking and cycling are the most suitable.
Adding a lot of iron-rich foods to your menu is also recommended: black pudding, veal liver, lentils, wholegrain cereals, etc. Add Vitamin B9 (or folic acid) to promote the formation of red blood cells. It is found in poultry liver, nuts, lamb's lettuce and broccoli.
Drugs for severe forms
When quality of life disturbances are significant, the doctor may prescribe drugs - at very low doses - that mimic the action of dopamine . The latter are often used at higher doses to treat Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative condition where dopamine production is also disrupted.
Their effectiveness is noticeable from the first week of treatment, but undesirable side effects can appear (nausea, headaches , behavioral disorders, ...). Close medical follow-up is then necessary.