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Allergy Pills Intensify Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome can be very frustrating, especially because it tends to rear its ugly head during those times that you are trying to rest. It can feel tense, tight, achy, itchy, or numb, depending on the reason for the RLS, and your overall health. Most sufferers report that by moving the leg, the negative sensation will temporarily dissipate, but will return again and again, causing further discomfort. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke advises: “Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night.”

There are many causes for RLS, including hormone changes, which is why so many women experience the sensation during pregnancy or menopause. Recent studies have suggested that RLS could be intensified by allergy medication, making it even more difficult to seek comfort and relief.

Investigating the Facts

Dr. William Ondo, a neurologist from Houston, touched on the subject of allergy medicine and RLS, suggesting that even popular over the counter medication, such as Benadryl, could have a negative impact Science Daily quotes Dr. Ondo in saying: “We don’t yet understand why sedating antihistamines worsen restless legs syndrome, but we do know that non-sedating antihistamines do not affect the symptoms as much because they do not enter the brain as easily. It’s very frustrating for my patients when a sleeping pill like a sedating antihistamine doesn’t help them sleep, so I advise them to seek other allergy relief options, such as nasal sprays and decongestants.”

Something which recent studies touched on, which surprised other researchers in the medical community, was how many go undiagnosed because they feel that allergy pills are simply giving them too much energy. Rather than noticing the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, they simply note the trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and express these concerns to a family doctor. RLS can be easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for.

Alcohol and RLS

It isn’t just allergy meds which causes restless leg syndrome to flair. New evidence suggests that imbibing too much alcohol can share a similar effect. This is especially true for those who drink before bed. Everyday Health reports: “Many people with RLS report that drinking can lead to more restless legs symptoms. Although alcohol can help people fall asleep quickly, it interferes with the quality of sleep and can make sleep apnea worse, says Alon Avidan, MD, MPH, an associate professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Clinic at UCLA.”

While the alcohol may intensify RLS, it doesn’t necessarily cause it. Those who suffer from restless leg syndrome will feel more discomfort when hormone levels change and chemical imbalances occur. This could be part of the connection between both allergy medications and alcohol on RLS.

Speaking to a Physician

As mentioned above, there are cases where some men and women miss a case of RLS altogether by mistaking it for something unrelated. Web MD explains: “Some people who think they’re allergic to sedating antihistamines because the drugs make them feel hyperactive may have undiagnosed restless legs syndrome and should see a doctor…”

For more information on restless leg syndrome, speak to your physician. There are some at home and over the counter remedies available to you. If you find that your flair ups become worse during allergy season, your doctor may be able to prescribe something for you that offers less of a reaction in combination with the RLS.

At Home Remedies

Fortunately for sufferers of this annoying syndrome there is hope in the form of at home treatments. Not every treatment will work for you every time that a flair up occurs, but it should help when used in combination or rotation with other treatments.

Hot and cold are a major factor in the relief of RLS, from a hot water bottle to an ice pack, this extreme change in temperature can help your leg to relax, and lessen the tightness that builds in muscles and tendons. Similarly, you may find that stretching the way you would before a run can help. By stretching your muscles, and warming up the tissues, it relaxes the tightness that has become to build in your leg, causing contractions and spasms when you try to sleep.

Massage is a sure-fire way to treat your RLS. You can do this on your own, with a partner, or through a professional clinic. If you aren’t sure how to find somebody with the credentials for this type of massage, ask your doctor for a referral. Even rubbing your own legs from top to bottom, including your feet, can make a huge difference.

A hot bath, short walk, or foot soak can also relax the muscles and give you some relief. To calm the body, including RLS, try chamomile tea before bed.

If symptoms persist or become worse, speak to your doctor about over the counter medications, and prescriptions which may be available to you. Many physicians will suggest that you try to beat RLS through natural methods, but for some men and women this just isn’t possible, especially during allergy season when sensations intensify. Don’t let RLS dictate your waking and sleeping patterns, get help now and rest easy.

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