DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know more about restless leg syndrome. — I.J.
ANSWER: Roughly 7 percent of women and 3 percent of men suffer from restless leg syndrome. That gives you a lot of fellow sufferers. People describe it in many ways. Some say it’s an aching in their legs. Others describe it as a creepingcrawling sensation. No matter how people express the feeling, it makes them get up and move around. Activity lessens or gets rid of the sensations, but they can and do come back. They usually appear in the evening or at night when people are sitting or when they get into bed.
No one is sure what causes the syndrome. Things that lessen its intensity and frequency are cutting back on caffeine, stopping smoking and exercising daily. Eliminating alcohol is a most helpful remedy.
Sometimes restless leg syndrome is associated with iron deficiency and the anemia due to iron deficiency. Your doctor will want to check you for that.
Pramipexole (Mirapex) and ropinirole (Requip), both drugs for Parkinson’s disease, are used for this syndrome, even though it has no relationship to Parkinson’s disease. They stimulate certain brain areas that control movement. Levodopa, another Parkinson’s medicine, also is prescribed. There are others, should these fail.
Periodic limb movements of sleep is another condition that frequently occurs along with restless leg syndrome. It’s involuntary movements of the legs and feet during sleep. The kicking and jerking last about two seconds and recur every 20 to 40 seconds. Often the affected person is unaware of them. The bed partner plays a nighttime role of being a drop-kicked football and is quite aware of what’s happening. The affected person is quite tired during the day. The same medicines used for restless leg syndrome can be used here, too. Daily exercise might put an end to the nocturnal movements.
The booklet on restless leg syndrome and nighttime leg cramps explains both conditions. To obtain a copy, write to: Dr. Donohue — No. 306W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have puffy bags under my eyes. They look like they have water in them. I am an 85-year-old woman.
What’s the best way to treat them? They aren’t getting any better. I use ice on them, and it helps, but they come back. — M.C.
ANSWER: Those puffy bags under your eyes aren’t filled with water; they’re globs of fat. In younger years, tough strands of fiber held them in place. With age, those strands weaken, and the fat bulges out. Look around and watch for them on TV. You’ll see that most people over 60 have them. They’re not a sign of illness.
I have seen all sorts of ads for creams and gels that say they can shrink these bags. I can’t vouch for any of them. I don’t know if they work. I have reservations. One way to correct them is surgical removal. You can forget the ice treatment unless you want to keep it up. It’s not a solution.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P. O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. ©2011 North America Synd.