Misery Loves Company: I Got COVID and It Aggravated My RLS

Last updated: March 2022

I got 3 vaccine doses, and then I got COVID-19. That basically tells you the state of my fantastic immune system. So I haven’t been feeling so hot. Well, actually I have been feeling hot. And cold. And hot. And cruddy.

My RLS medication hasn't been as effective

I noticed since the onset of this virus that my restless legs syndrome (RLS) medication hasn’t been that effective when I take it, leaving me with some pretty intense creepy crawlies when I go to bed.

It hasn’t been much of an issue with sleep onset because, being sick, I just collapse and conk out. It is a bit problematic during the night because I am so restless I wake up frequently, and then it is quite hard to get comfortable again. I am already sore all over, congested, and coughing, so you add in RLS and, yeah, sleep doesn't come so easily.

So off to Google I go...

Research on COVID-19 and RLS symptoms together is lacking

And nada. No mention of it at all? Google, you failed me.

Not that I expected there to be a massive amount of documented reports of people with RLS saying that when they got COVID their RLS went nutbars, but I thought maybe there would be some reference to creepy crawlies as a symptom. I didn't even find any mention of cold or flu worsening restless legs syndrome symptoms.

However, I speculate that in some cases they might, because they can affect our quality of sleep. I thought maybe it was a coincidence, but it has been every day since I have endured this virus, so maybe not a coincidence.

Why COVID might have worsened my RLS symptoms

I can only speculate, but the reasons I think my RLS got worse when I contracted COVID are:

Disrupted sleep

Well, more disrupted sleep than usual. I am seriously fatigued. I mean, so tired it is unbelievable — but restless because I am also extremely sore, stuffed up, and I have this deep cough made worse by my asthma. So sleep is quite restless. Less sleep, worse RLS.

Stress

Obviously, having COVID is pretty stressful. And I was already really stressed out due to another event in my life I have been dealing with for a couple of weeks and trying to sort out. Then, bam: COVID. So that caused a lot of additional stress. Plus my brother and sister-in-law also got sick. My sister-in-law has severe asthma, so I am watching to make sure hers doesn’t develop into something worse than what we are currently dealing with. My spouse didn’t get it (3 rapid tests so far prove it). He must have some superpowered immune system!

Antihistamines

I have been taking a regular sort of cough medicine to help clear my congestion so I can breathe better — so that I can sleep, for one thing. Most of those medicines have antihistamines in them, and I know those are on the list of medications that aggravate RLS.

Immune system response may play a role in my worsened RLS symptoms

I figure those are the factors, but maybe RLS gets worse when we get things like the flu or viral infections due to the amped-up immune system response — the stress our body is under. I’m not really sure.

I do know it is adding to the overall cruddy I am feeling, though. I am thankful I am vaccinated against COVID-19 given my overall health issues because I imagine this would be a whole lot worse otherwise.

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