Seniors With Diabetes and RLS

Seniors with diabetes and RLS need to monitor their symptomsSeniors with Diabetes and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) need to pay attention to their needs, from both of these related conditions.

RLS is a condition which affects the nervous system. The symptoms affect the sufferer’s legs, causing  uncomfortable feelings and an urge to move the legs. RLS is common in seniors. Figures from the NCBI show that 10 – 35% of seniors suffer from the condition.

Seniors can be affected by either primary RLS (=no known cause) or secondary RLS (which is caused by a co-existing medical condition).

RLS and Diabetes

RLS, a neurological-sensory disorder, often gets worse when person sits for a prolonged amount of time, or, rests or sleeps. Sleep is disturbed by the symptoms of RLS. That is why RLS is also classified as a sleep disorder.

Diabetes is one of the conditions that can trigger secondary RLS.

Diabetes causes difficulty in controlling the level of the blood sugar. That is a risk factor for nerve damage. RLS might be brought about by the neural damage caused by diabetes.

Remedies for RLS

Treatment for RLS can include medication. Medication as a treatment usually follows attempts to treat the symptoms with a non-medicinal approach.

A senior who suffers from both diabetes and RLS should exercise caution when applying the following remedies. For example, if there is diabetic neuropathy in the legs, check on an elbow to see that hot packs are mildly warm.

Some of the remedies suggested for easing the symptoms of RLS include:

  • Exercise. This might be a lifestyle change for some people. Increasing the use of the legs by walking more or doing exercises focusing on the leg muscles, can be helpful.
  • Massaging and a warm bath. These activities improve circulation to the legs and relax the muscles.
  • Heating and / or cooling packs. These packs applied to the legs soothe tense muscles and improve the circulation. You can experiment to see what works better for you, heating packs, cooling packs or alternating both.
  • Cutting out 3 Bad Buddies. Cutting out the following from your diet could help: caffeine, tobacco and alcohol.
  • Relaxation. Learn and practice relaxation. This can soothe the nerves and muscles and help cope with the effects of disturbed sleep from the RLS.
  • Meditation. Meditation techniques from yoga and activities that calm your spirit can help you relax so that stress does not trigger the RLS.
  • Improve sleep habits. If you are a senior with diabetes and RLS  you can read about tips to improve your sleep and anecdotal and medical advice. Sleep hygiene is an important aspect of controlling the effects of RLS.

Diabetes and RLS – Share a common root

Diabetes and RLS share a common cause (polyneuropathy). It is likely that people who suffer from diabetes and RLS, would experience the RLS more. More studies are needed on the topic to prove whether there is an association between RLS and diabetes. A study that found a correlation between patients with RLS and Type 2 diabetes and the severity of the resultant sleep loss.

It is a challenge for seniors with diabetes and RLS, to contend with the symptoms of RLS, of diabetes and of sleep deprivation all rolled into one.