Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome & Alcohol

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Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome & Alcohol

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disease, causes unpleasant discomfort in the legs. Overwhelming sensations make it difficult not to adjust your position constantly. Usually, symptoms increase at night, making it unbearable to return to sleep. As RLS is a disease of the nervous system, the effects of alcohol can make symptoms worse. There is a link between restless legs syndrome and alcohol as alcohol withdrawal can mimic many symptoms of RLS, and it is suggested to cease drinking to help control restless legs syndrome.

What Causes Restless Legs Syndrome?

There are numerous causes for RLS, and one reason is malfunctioning dopamine-receptors. Receptors that are not adequately functioning mess with the “feel good” chemicals that send messages controlling muscle movement. In addition, most receptors that are supposed to receive dopamine are not receiving it at all. This trigger causes aches and confusion in the nervous system. Usually, doctors will prescribe dopamine stimulating drugs for people struggling with restless legs.

You can probably guess the most common cause of restlessness, but did you know that inflammation is the number one underlying cause? Low dopamine and low iron levels are directed to patients’ long-term inflammation. During inflammation, the body releases cytokines made to protect the immune system.

Another factor believed by many people to be a cause of RLS is the lack of iron or iron deficiency. However, your iron levels are probably not the issue, and it’s more likely your body is metabolizing iron that may be the root of the symptom. Iron is essential for the body and mind to function properly, but most tests only determine how much iron is found in the blood. Low iron levels in the brain stem from dopamine development. Ferroportin is an iron-transporter, and its job is to allow iron into the brain, and because of inflammation, the production of ferroportin becomes insufficient. Only 1 in 5 restless leg individuals are diagnosed as iron deficient.

Foods That Cause Restless Legs Syndrome

Although, there is a link between restless legs syndrome and alcohol, a person suffering from restless legs should avoid many foods and beverages that may stimulate nerves and further progress RLS. Coffee, most teas, energy drinks, and soda are highly suggested to keep out of your diet. Of course, fried foods, processed, and sugary foods are also linked to an increased risk of RLS or heightening symptoms.1 These foods lower dopamine receptors and are linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These recommendations are highly advised for women who suffer from restless leg syndrome during pregnancy since the body needs an excess of nutrition during this time.

People claim if you have RLS, you should eat bananas. You may be wondering, “Why do bananas help with restless leg syndrome?” Although bananas offer a high percentage of iron, most people do not have an iron issue, but those diagnosed with a deficiency should definitely stock up on bananas! Adding folate and magnesium to your diet by eating bananas can help improve conditions. You can also try adding spinach and other dark leafy greens, black-eyed peas, lentils, beans, and whole wheat pasta to your diet. Cashews, edamame, and brown rice are also fantastic magnesium-rich foods. It is not recommended to take supplements or many vitamins for restless legs because you can get what you need by living a healthy lifestyle and adding more whole foods into your diet.

Shaking From Drinking Alcohol

Effects of drinking alcohol may cause irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, strokes, or even seizures. However, a person who was constantly drinking then quits alcohol abuse then may experience tremors or alcohol shakes. The problem stems from areas of the brain that control the body’s muscles. This effect can make it difficult to perform everyday activities. Shaking from alcohol withdrawal and other symptoms can increase the progression of RLS. Also, symptoms of alcohol seizures are caused by consuming a large number of or high quantities of drinks. Alcohol withdrawal seizures usually occur within 24-48 hours of stopping or dramatically reducing drinking.

Individualized Treatment Programs in Palm Beach

Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches specializes in successful treatment for alcoholism and welcomes you to recovery. Our highly trained professionals and licensed therapists use unique therapeutic methods to help you safely get through withdrawals. After realizing addiction or battling mental illness, it is vital to get help from professionals who can help you not relapse.

Our addiction treatment programs in Palm Beach are worth it if you or someone you love is tired of taking on the battle alone. Please do not hesitate to contact us, as there is always someone available to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to speaking with you soon!


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  1. – What Are Alcohol Shakes or Tremors? |


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