observed an improvement in some patients when body iron stores were replenished. Other studies have found a relationship between RLS and diseases of the peripheral nerves and spinal cord, kidney failure, dialysis, pregnancy, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, and alcoholism. RLS can also occur as a side effect of some medications, particularly SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are prescribed for depression. Researchers from Stanford University’s School of Medicine have reported that about half of the 10 to 15 percent of the population who suffer from RLS have a family member with a history of the disorder, providing evidence that they inherited it.
IT’S A FACT
If you have RLS, the National Sleep Foundation warns that your symptoms can become more severe if you consume caffeine or take antidepressants.
While a diagnosis of RLS in kids is made very infrequently, if your teen is excessively tired and you’ve seen involuntary movements or your teen has complained of discomfort in her legs or arms and the need to move them, be sure to mention the symptoms to your daughter’s doctor. A history of building discomfort in the limbs that is relieved by movement helps distinguish a sleepy teen with DSPS from one with RLS. The doctor should see if an underlying condition exists—iron levels should definitely be checked—or if any medication the teen is taking precipitated or is aggravating the condition (a trial of a lower dose, a dose taken earlier in the day, or an alternative medication may be in order). You don’t want to neglect the problem when relief is available.
That relief may come in the form of different kinds of behavioral interventions, such as gentle stretches or yoga exercises in the evening. Some patients have reported that a warm bath or shower can be beneficial. Adult patients may get relief by drinking a glass of quinine water, but I know of no information about the chronic use of quinine water in teens. Boosting potassium stores with orange juice or a ba-