RLS symptoms increase death risk

For most people, restless leg syndrome (RLS) is so strange that it almost doesn't sound real -- and commercials for drugs to treat RLS symptoms have even become fodder for late-night comics.

But for millions of Americans, RLS is no laughing matter at all.

It's an all-too-real condition marked by pain, numbness, twitching and more. It can interfere with daily activity and disrupt sleep -- and that may not even be the worst of it, because new research shows that men with this condition have a higher risk of an early death.

Overall, the study of 18,000 men finds that RLS symptoms can increase your risk of an early death by 40 percent.

But once you pull out other major risk factors for an early death -- conditions such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, for example -- the risk of an early death shoots up by 92 percent in men with RLS.

RLS symptoms don't appear to increase the risk of any single condition more than any other. But in general, men with this condition are more likely to die of respiratory illness, endocrine disease, immunological disorders and nutritional or metabolic conditions.

That cuts across the spectrum -- and there's no surefire way to guard against all those conditions at once.

But on the other hand, you may not have to. If the common thread here is RLS, then regaining control of your legs just might help slash your risk of these conditions and the early death they bring with them at the same time.

There are medications for relieving RLS symptoms, but the most common include dopamine agonists, and they come with serious risks of their own -- including sleep disorders, hallucinations, emotional problems and compulsive and even self-destructive behavior such as gambling.

Fortunately, I've been able to help many people without these medications.

In most cases, this condition can be controlled or even cured naturally -- and instead of focusing on dopamine, my approach starts with another neurotransmitter that plays a role in RLS: serotonin.

Between 100 and 200 mg of 5-HTP taken before bed can often increase serotonin and ease or eliminate RLS symptoms. And if that doesn't do the trick, there are still other natural options.

A holistic physician can help find the best treatment for your situation. And if you're in Southern California, I can help. Contact my clinic at 1-855-DOC-MARK for more information or to make an appointment.