RLS Treatment Options
Before restiffic, there existed three primary treatment options for managing RLS: pharmaceuticals, homeopathic remedies, and lifestyle choices.
Pharmaceuticals are a common treatment method for RLS. Dopamine agonists, dopaminergic agents, opiates, central nervous system depressants, and anticonvulsants are different families of frequently prescribed drugs to manage RLS symptoms. These pharmaceuticals are often accompanied by long lists of negative side effects, including nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, daytime sleepiness, addiction, and more. The cost of these medicines can vary significantly, as they may or may not be covered by insurance plans. These medicines can easily cost over $1500/year, and costs can increase year to year as many patients need to increase their dosage of medication.
With pharmaceuticals, there is also the risk of augmentation. Augmentation occurs when a dopaminergic agent or other pharmaceutical relieves symptoms at night, but eventually symptoms begin to develop earlier in the day and spread from the legs to the rest of the body, such as to the arms and trunk. When experiencing augmentation, increasing the dosage usually worsens symptoms.
Other common side effects associated with pharmaceutical treatment for RLS include the rebound effect (which is the re-emergence of symptoms that were either absent or controlled while taking a medication, but reappear when medication is reduced or discontinued), addiction or dependency on medication, and the need to increase the dosage of medication.
Homeopathic or herbal remedies are another form of treatment for RLS. These medicines are available without prescription and can be purchased over the counter or on the internet. These are generally not FDA-approved and their claims of success are difficult to verify. As with pharmaceuticals, homeopathic remedies may be accompanied by negative side effects.
Lifestyle choices, such as limiting alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine may be recommended for treating RLS. Maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring that that your diet has adequate levels of iron may also be suggested. Presently, there is no single lifestyle choice that has been shown to markedly reduce symptoms of RLS.
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