Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day Date in the current year: September 23, 2024

Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day, also known as Restless Legs Awareness Day or RLS Day, is observed annually on September 23. It was crated to raise awareness of a long-term disorder that affects a person’s sleep quality.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move one’s legs, often accompanied by an unpleasant tingling or aching feeling in the legs that can be relieved by moving them. This feeling usually occurs when one is resting; because of this, RLS often keeps people from falling asleep and thus leads to irritability, low energy and daytime sleepiness due to a lack of sleep.

RLS is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. It was named so after Sir Thomas Willis, an English doctor who published the first case report of the disease in 1672, and Karl-Axel Ekbom, a Swedish neurologist who provided the first detailed description of the syndrome in 1944 or 1945. RLS should not be confused with Ekbom’s syndrome (an alternative name of delusional parasitosis).

The exact cause of RLS is unknown, but it is generally believed to be caused by decreased dopamine activity which results in low iron levels in the brain. Risk factors for the disease include iron deficiency, celiac disease, diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and a number of medications.

There are two main types of RLS: early onset RLS and late onset RLS. The former runs in families, starts before the age of 45 and worsens over time; the latter starts at age 45 or later, has a sudden unset and doesn’t worsen. Women are more commonly affected by restless legs syndrome than men.

If RLS has an underlying cause, it can be treated by managing the primary disease. Otherwise RLS cannot be cured, but it can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle changes that can help RLS patients include sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and stopping smoking and drinking alcohol. Medications prescribed to RLS patients include dopamine agonists (cabergoline, pramipexole, ropinirole, rotigotine) and levodopa. They help to improve the quality of sleep and therefore the quality of life in general.

Restless Legs Syndrome Awareness Day was inaugurated in 2012 by the Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation (now Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation), a non-profit organization that strives to increase awareness of RLS and improve the lives of those affected by the disease. The date of September 23 was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Karl-Axel Ekbom. RLS Day was created to bring together medical professionals, researchers, and other stakeholders and unite them in raising awareness.

You can observe RLS Awareness Day by reading articles or watching a documentary to educate yourself about the syndrome, participating in an event near you or even organizing your own event, donating to an organization that funds RLS research, and raising awareness on social media with the hashtags #RLSAwarenessDay and #RLSAD. If you’re living with RLS, consider sharing your story with others to give newly diagnosed patients hope (but only if you’re comfortable doing it).

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