Kidneys and Restless Legs

Lists of diseases that sometimes go hand in hand with restless legs often also include diseases of the kidneys.

It is usually stated that it concerns a kidney disease that is in an advanced stage. In a kidney disease in which the patient suffers from RLS, the restless legs are called secondary RLS.

In this blog I take a closer look at what kidneys are and how they function. I also go into what happens when the kidneys are not healthy. I will of course link to RLS.

What are kidneys

Kidneys are organs that sit in the abdominal cavity, on either side of the spine. They are bean-shaped with the concave side toward the center. Kidneys are between 10 and 13 centimeters long and about five centimeters thick.

The function of kidneys is to purify your blood. They filter out the useful substances. You pass the waste products out in the form of urine.

Kidneys also regulate your blood pressure.

Kidney damage usually occurs with diabetes or high blood pressure. Lifestyle and drug use also play a role. Damage to the kidneys can also be caused by kidney disease or by another physical condition.

You usually don’t really notice anything physically about kidney damage until an advanced stage. It may already be too late to do anything about it. Artificially purifying your blood in the form of dialysis is then necessary.

If damage to the kidneys is suspected, blood and urine tests provide a definitive answer.

Restless legs

As mentioned, physical complaints only arise in severe, chronic kidney damage or even kidney failure. One of the possible complaints is RLS.

Healthy kidneys help in the production of red blood cells. In unhealthy kidneys, this process is disrupted.

There is also a low iron content in kidney damage.

In the long run, both cases together will irrevocably lead to anemia. They may play a role in the development of restless legs in kidney patients.

An Italian study has shown that dialysis patients with restless legs have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The worse the restless legs, the greater the chance of premature death. That doesn’t sound good.

Another American study shows that when kidney patients dialysis with a higher frequency (at home) the complaints of restless legs decrease. That gives some hope again.

It seems miserable to me to have restless legs in addition to a serious problem with your kidneys. Moreover, it is not so easy to treat RLS with drugs, because they do not go well with drugs for the kidneys.

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