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Celiac Disease Screening Recommended for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) with Iron Deficiency

Celiac.com 02/09/2009 - Doctors are recommending simple, low-cost blood tests to screen for celiac disease in patients who have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) with low serum ferritin, but who otherwise show no clear cause for iron deficiency.

Low iron reserves are a known risk factor Restless Leg Syndrome, as blood iron levels below 45-50ng/mL have been tied to more severe expressions of RLS. In fact, iron levels are so important to assessing RLS, that it is now common for doctors to test blood ferritin levels when first assessing Restless Leg Syndrome. Celiac disease is a common genetic disorder of the immune system that can cause iron deficiency.

Doctors S. Manchanda, C.R. Davies, and D. Picchietti of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently set out to determine if celiac disease might play a role in iron deficiency in patients with Restless Leg Syndrome.

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The doctors evaluated a series of four patients with Restless Leg Syndrome and blood ferritin below 25ng/mL, who had shown positive blood tests for celiac disease. Doctors confirmed celiac disease for all four patients via duodenal biopsy and positive reaction to a gluten-free diet. In each case, Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms improved, with two patients discontinuing Restless Leg Syndrome medication and two responding positively without medication.

The doctors are recommending simple, low-cost blood tests to screen for celiac disease in patients who have Restless Leg Syndrome with low serum ferritin, but who otherwise show no clear cause for iron deficiency.

They also note that diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease is likely to improve the outcome for those patients with Restless Leg Syndrome, as well as to better identify people at risk for the significant long-term complications associated with celiac disease.

Restless Leg Syndrome is just the latest neurological disorder to show a connection to celiac disease. Stay tuned as more information  becomes available.


Source: Sleep Med. 2009 Jan 10. PMID: 19138881

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3 Responses:

 
Jen
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said this on
02 Mar 2009 7:39:50 AM PST
Iron deficient anemia is how I found out I had Celiac. I was having horrible restless legs and unexplained muscle cramps in my feet and legs. I tried RSL medications with no relief. Blood tests showed my iron levels so low I almost needed transfusions.

My doctor figured it had to be some kind of serious GI bleeding or cancer were likely causes.

Endoscopy showed Celiac disease.

Except for anemia, I have no other Celiac symptoms.

 
Fran Greenfield
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said this on
08 Feb 2010 5:57:20 PM PST
What a SURPRISE to learn that my restless leg syndrome has a connection to gluten intolerance. I've been on a gluten free diet now for almost a year but never connected restless leg syndrome to diet. Oddly enough I did not connect the absence or at least near absence of restless leg syndrome which I found extremely painful. I would walk the floor for hours in an effect to straighten my toes and ease the cramps up my legs. Thank you for this 'ray of sunshine' and the near absence of restless leg syndrome.

 
Pam
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said this on
07 Mar 2009 5:43:49 AM PST
Yes - me too exactly! I even saw two hematologists for the anemia and the RLS. Let's keep the physician education going strong!




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