Restless Legs Syndrome: sleep specialist talks about it

THE Restless Legs Syndrome or disease of Willis-Ekbom is considered a sleep disorderas it predominantly manifests itself at rest, causing restlessness in the lower limbs, which compromises sleep and quality of life of affected people. Despite affecting 5% to 15% of the population, the syndrome is still unknown to many.

In an interview with O DIA, the sleep doctor Fernanda Castro explains the symptoms and causes of the condition. According to the expert, there is a need to move around to relieve the feeling of discomfort. This ends up interfering with the rest period of the affected people. In addition, the causes of the syndrome can be as much due to genetics as to iron deficiency, kidney failure or diabetes.

“The syndrome is mainly characterized by discomfort in the legs, an unpleasant sensation that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep. The causes are not fully elucidated, but there is a genetic component, where about 50% of cases have a family history. There is also the issue of iron deficiency as one of the main factors. In addition to other reasons”, says Fernanda Castro.

Restless Legs Syndrome affects 5% to 15% of the population, according to experts (Photo: Cottonbro/Pexels)

The expert points out that The disease can affect any age group, from children to the elderly. “All ages are affected, if it is a genetic factor, it can be expressed before 20 years of age, but we observed that the intensity of symptoms increases with age. We see a greater complaint in older people, but children also happen”, he points out.

According to Fernanda Castro, it is important to know how to differentiate Restless Legs Syndrome from the voluntary movement of the feet that people usually do during the day, especially when they are anxious. “The syndrome cannot be confused with the anxiety we have during the day., which makes us sway our feet. Sometimes it’s an intentional move that doesn’t bother people. The syndrome is a movement disorder that occurs during sleep.

Also according to the specialist, the arms can also be affected by the syndrome, but normally the condition affects the lower limbs. The doctor reports that the diagnosis is clinical, where all the criteria need to be fulfilled. After that, laboratory tests will be performed to rule out any risk factors. In addition, polysomnography or sleep examination can also be performed if necessary.

The treatment takes place, initially, through some actions such as exercise daily and during the crisis, move your legs and seek relief. But if that doesn’t solve it, Fernanda Castro adds that the use of pharmacological drugs may be necessary.

Check out the full interview:


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Edition: Adriana Magalhães

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