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入眠障害の代表!足に感じるつらい違和感はむずむず脚症候群かも?!

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じっと座っていられない。横になっている時にも脚や腕に不快感が起こってきて、どうしても脚を動かしたい! 

軽度な不眠や体のコリなんか目ではないほどの不快感は「虫が這いずりまわっている」「ほてる」「足の中に手をいれてグシャグシャにかき回したい」とすら表現する患者さんもいるそうです。

もし、そのような脚や腕を動かしたく成るような不快感が原因でひどい不眠にかかっている方がいたら「むずむず脚症候群」(RLS:restless legs syndrome)かも知れません。症状が悪化する前に病院にかかるべきです。ここではむずむず脚症候群についての説明と、その自己診断の方法をご紹介いたします。

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放置はダメ! むずむず脚症候群の恐ろしさ

美脚

「むずむず脚症候群」は「レストレスレッグス症候群」「エクボン症」あるいは「下肢静止不能症候群」などとも言われます。

日本では昔からよく知られていた症状ですが、海外では比較的最近になって認知されはじめました。日本人には比較的患者は少ないとされていますが、潜在的な有病率は全人口の2~5%ともいわれています。

症状はすでに述べたとおり、脚や体に不快感が走り、動きたくて堪らずムズムズしてしまうものですが、軽度のものはまだしも3分の1ほどの患者では週二回以上、睡眠前に重たい症状を発してしまい重度の不眠症にかかってしまうことがあります。回復が長引くと全身に症状がうつることもあり、また精神的な負担も大きくかかり鬱病などを発症してしまうこともあります。

これらは軽度な症状であっても放置すると悪化していくことが多いようです。もし心当たりがあるのであれば、睡眠障害に発展する前に専門医に相談する必要があります。

原因はまだ完全には解き明かされていません

このむずむず脚症候群はまだその原因がはっきりと分かっているわけではないようです。
近年の研究では、ドーパミンとよばれる脳内物質がうまく生成されていないことがその原因ではないかとも疑われていますがよくわかっていません。

ドーパミンを作るための鉄分や葉酸が不足している時に、むずむず脚症候群になりやすいのではないかとされています。

むずむず脚症候群には、体の病気に併発するタイプの「続発性」のものと、原因不明の「特発性」のものとがあります。「続発性」のむずむず脚症候群は、鉄欠乏性貧血、葉酸欠乏や糖尿病、慢性腎不全、パーキンソン病、関節リウマチ、ガン、高コレステロール血症など様々な病気に併発することがあります。

妊娠をきっかけに病気になってしまうケースもあるので、注意が必要です。また、アルコールやカフェイン、向精神薬などによって誘発されることもあるようです。

治療法

治療法としては、続発性の場合は併発している病気の治療を行うことが有効です。

貧血や糖尿病などの場合には、それらにあわせた薬を処方することでむずむず脚症候群が収まっていくこともあるそうです。また、アルコールやたばこ等はむずむず感を引き起こしやすいようですので、取らないようにしましょう。

専門薬としては「ドーパミンアゴニスト」という薬がまず使われます。先ほど述べたとおり、脳内のドーパミンが少ないことが原因ではないかと疑われているため、これを投与することで症状を緩和させます。ほかには、プラミペキソールとロピニロールという薬が治療につかわれることも多いようです。

主に海外における治療で使われますが、日本でもパーキンソン病の患者が服用しており、日本では保険適応に追加されることが期待されています。いずれにしても市販薬はほとんどありません。専門医の処方が必要です。

まだ症状が軽い場合には鉄分や葉酸の積極的な摂取や、マッサージ、ウォーキングなどを規則正しく続けていれば自然と回復することもあるそうです。しかし鉄分の過剰摂取は副作用の怖れがあります。食品としては、レバーやホウレンソウ、あさり、いわしなどに多く含まれています。また、マッサージをすることで症状が緩和されることがありますが、根本的に治っているわけではありません。

診断方法

診断方法としては、簡単なチェックシートを利用することで多少の自己診断が可能です。

  • 脚に不快感や違和感がある。
  • じっとしていられず脚を動かしたくなる。
  • これらの症状は座ったり横になったりしている時に起こる、あるいは悪化する。
  • 歩くと改善する。
  • 夜や寝る前に起こりやすくなる

これらに3つ以上当てはまるようであれば、むずむず脚症候群の怖れがあります。

まとめ

以上のようにむずむず脚症候群について説明してきました。

病気の一種ですから、お医者様に関わることを再三おすすめします。栄養有る食事をとり、健康に気をつけることで症状を抑えることができますし、発症を防ぐこともできます。妊娠中などには特に気をつけて、無理せずお医者様に相談しながら生活を送るようにしてください。

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