A small study reports that celiac disease is a possible cause of low iron levels in some people who have restless legs syndrome.
The study involved four people with RLS and low iron stores in the body. They also tested positive for celiac disease.
Results show that a gluten-free diet reduced RLS symptoms in all four people. Two of the people were able to stop taking their RLS medication; the other two responded without any medication.
The authors conclude that treating celiac disease is likely to improve RLS symptoms in some people.
The NIDDK reports that celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine; it interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.
People who have celiac disease are unable to tolerate gluten; this is a protein in wheat, rye and barley. It is found mainly in foods such as bread, pasta and cereal.
More than two million people in the U.S. have celiac disease. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet.
According to the AASM, RLS is a common sleep disorder that produces an intense urge to move the legs. The intensity of this urge increases at night and as you lie or sit still. It is relieved only by walking or moving the legs.
RLS often involves other burning, prickly, itching or tingling sensations deep in the legs. The RLS sensations can make it very hard for you to fall asleep. Symptoms of RLS tend to become more intense and last longer over time.
Other conditions that produce low iron levels increase the risk of RLS. Treatment options for RLS include exercise, medications and iron treatment.
In 2008 the FDA approved the first generic versions of Requip (ropinirole hydrochloride); this drug is approved for the treatment of moderate to severe RLS.
Learn how research is cracking the genetic code for RLS on SleepEducation.com.
Get help for RLS at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.