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Drugs That Cause Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome, or RLS, is the term given to a medical condition whereby people have crawly, tingly or pulling sensations in their legs, or an overwhelming urge to move their legs. The sensations usually occur during periods of inactivity, such as when a person has been sitting at a desk for a while or at night after lying down. While the exact cause of RLS is still unknown, it sometimes runs in families, so some researchers are seeking a genetic link. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute points to research indicating that iron deficiency or the brain’s inability to make good use of this essential mineral is a precipitating factor in the disease 1. Some drugs are also considered culprits in bringing on the symptoms of RLS.

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Prescription Drugs

While the cause of primary RLS is unknown, a variety of prescription medicines are associated with increased complaints about the symptoms of the disease. While some types of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, occasionally appear to lessen the symptoms of RLS, says, they are more likely to aggravate them.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

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Over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines may also bring on restless legs syndrome 2. In a 2008 Johns Hopkins University study reported in Medical News Today, researchers discovered that a main component of allergy medicine, diphenhydramine, made RLS symptoms three to four times worse in people who were known to have the disease. The researchers found that people who have RLS have more receptors in their brains for this type of antihistamine, which affects their nervous system and sleep-wake cycle.

Other Substances