Q: My uncle seems to have restless leg syndrome. At first I just thought he should exercise more and shake it off. But I've done some research; shouldn't he be under a doctor's supervision?
George J., Harrisburg, Pa.
A: Getting a diagnosis is always the first smart step. If it is WED/RLS — restless leg syndrome, now officially called Willis-Ekbom disease — it can be serious. Researchers have discovered that this neurological disease, somewhat like Parkinson's, ups the risk for early mortality by 39 percent. In addition, symptoms such as a painful throbbing in the legs along with an overwhelming urge to move (usually while trying to rest or sleep) are sometimes complicated by respiratory disease, kidney problems or health issues that cause metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity).
Fortunately WED/RLS symptoms can be dealt with effectively. Iron supplements and medications may reduce symptoms. And you were right, regular exercise does help reduce symptoms by 40 percent or more. Your uncle could ride a stationary bike for at least 30 minutes a day. Not only will it help him with WED/RLS, it may ease associated conditions such as metabolic syndrome.
Also, there is a genetic component to WED/RLS. If it turns out your uncle does have the condition, it's essential that you start exercising regularly if you don't already.
Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily (at sign) sharecare.com.
King Features Syndicate