Medications and food to avoid, applie... - Restless Legs Syn...

Restless Legs Syndrome

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Medications and food to avoid, applies to most of us who has RLS. This is taken from the website..


Drugs and Foods to avoid to improve RLS

This section will discuss various drugs and foods that may worsen RLS. Things that cause worsening of RLS in some patients may not bother others in the same way; in fact, others may even be helped by these same medications or foods that worsen others. Please free to email us with any foods or drugs that worsen your RLS problems. Keeping a diary or log of foods, medications taken and worsening of RLS may also be helpful to determine what might be affecting you.

Ice Cream

Some patients have found that ice cream (all flavors) cause worsening of RLS. Avoiding this food eliminates significant RLS worsening, especially in patients who eat a lot of ice cream. The cause of this relationship is unknown. For a possible explanation of why ice cream may exacerbate RLS, click here for a discussion of avoiding Mono and Diglycerides to help RLS.


Drugs and foods containing caffeine are very common. Coffee, tea, and colas are all commonly known beverages which contain significant amounts of caffeine and can cause worsening of RLS symptoms. Chocolate can also contains caffeine.

Many medications use caffeine in their formulation, especially pain pills, so you much check them out one by one. Some common medications with caffeine include: Cafergot, Darvon, Esgic, Exedrin, Fioricet, Fiorinal, Migralam, Norgesic, Wigraine, Anolaor, Butalbital, Femcet, Medigesic, Pacaps, Repan, and Synalgos-DC.


These include the common allergy and cold remedies, most of which are available over the counter. Examples are Actifed, Benadryl, Chlortrimeton, Comtrex, Contact, Corcidin, Dimetapp, Drixoral, PediaCare, Sinutab, Tavist, TheraFlu, Triaminic, Tylenol (flu, cold, PM, allergy), Vicks. Note that many cough syrups may contain antihistamines, especially if they are recommended for cold or flu symptoms.

The newer, non-sedating antihistamines, Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin are generally better (and some RLS patients can take these without problems), but can be just as bad as the over the counter medications.


The tricyclic and serotonin uptake inhibitors (see Antidepressant Medication section above) can cause significant worsening of RLS problems. Paradoxically, some patients have noted marked improvement while on these medications, making it harder to understand why some patients worsen and others improve.


Medications to treat nausea can worsen RLS symptoms. This class of drugs includes: Anitvert, Atarax, Benadryl, Bonine, Compazine, Phenergan, Thorazine, Tigan, Trilafon and Vistaril.

There is an antinausea medication only available in Canada and Mexico called Domperidone (available over the counter as Motilium 10 in Mexico) , which does not cause worsening of RLS symptoms. This can be obtained by Americans over the internet from Canadian pharmacies (example is or with a valid prescription from an American medical doctor.

Reglan (metoclopramide) is an anti-nausea agent that is also used to prevent reflux and has significant anti-dopamine activity, so it should be avoided.

There are two newer anti-nausea medications available in t he USA, Kytril (granisetron hydrochloride) and Zofran (ondansetron hydrochloride) which do not affect the dopamine system and thus should be safe for RLS. The only problem with these medications are that they are very expensive.

Cough syrups

Most OTC cough syrups are fine to use for RLS patients if they are just simple cough medications (like regular Robitussin which contains guaifenesin and the DM version that also contains dextromethorphan). When they are combination preparations (also good for colds, flu, etc.) they likely contain antihistamines which as noted above, worsens RLS. So, check the ingredients carefully before you buy any cough medication (OTC) as they may contain harmful ingredients.

The prescription cough syrups usually contain a narcotic (codeine or hydrocodone). The most common one prescribed is Phenergan with codeine, which contains the anti-nausea agent phenergan which usually worsens RLS. It is countered by the presence of a small dose of codeine, but this may not be enough to cover the RLS worsening effects of the phenergan. Tussionex is an example of the hydrocodone containing syrups. It is combined with chlorpheniramine, a potent RLS worsening antihistamine, but the hydrocodone is at a high dose of 10 mg which usually will overcome any worsening effects of the chlorpheniramine. Hycomine is similar to Tussionex but Hycotuss does not contain any RLS worsening medications so it may be a better choice.

Antipsychotic medications

Many of these drugs are similar chemically to the anti-nauseants (in fact many are used as anti-nauseants). They can worsen RLS just like the antinausea drugs. This class of drugs includes: Clozaril, Compazine, Haldol, Loxitane, Mellaril, Moban, Navane, Prolixin, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Serentil, Stelazine, Thorazine, and Trilafon. Also, lithium, a drug which is very helpful in the manic-depressive disorders, can worsen RLS.

Bladder Control drugs

We have gotten some case reports of worsening RLS with drugs such as Ditropan. These drugs should thus be used with caution in RLS sufferers.


Alcohol had been found by many RLS sufferers to cause worsening of their RLS. The amount that does this can be very small in some cases. Individual tolerance can vary considerably (many may not be bothered at all)

16 Replies

For those of us who are in the UK, for anti-nausea, you can get Motilium 10 over the counter. I have some in my medicine cabinet.

Thanks for that.I have just checked and the travel sickness pill I take contains Cinnarizine which blocks the dopamine. Now I know why my legs are so bad when I travel.

sandrawall75 in reply to Cobourg

Can this drug Metoclopramide which is mentioned as generic for Reglan at Internationaldrugmart be used for traveling sickness? Please let me know on this.

Hidden in reply to sandrawall75

If you look at the original post, its says not to take if you have RLS.

That is one of the worst ones. generic or brand name, it is all the same with RLS.

That one will drive your legs nuts. Reglan is really bad, so the generic is going to be no different. It is on the list to avoid, and I highly suggest that you do, sandrawall75 From personal experience, most of the anti nausea drugs WILL exacerbate your RLS, like the original post says.


When i travel, i use travel bands, they are worn around your wrists and work by using accupressure points. I got fed up with travel sickness pills, (before rls) and them making me drowsy. took hours to wear side effects with the bands... :)

Hidden in reply to Hidden

There is some patch that goes behind the ear. I am always given that

for a surgery. It's so effective that I would shout from the roof tops

if I knew what it is.

Ginger is another excellent alternative...It's a good anti inflammatory

as well.

I give my kids those sea bands for around their wrists. I'm not sure

if they are a mental thing (placebo effect) or if they really do something

but by golly, they work. =)

Grammy12 in reply to Hidden

The patch that goes behind the ear is scopolamine, I believe.

Thanks for posting! This is a test reply to see if ths site will actually BEHAVE! The last wk has been AWFUL as we can see from so few posts. let's see.................if this works. Some go through and some do not.


Paxil was life changing for me. I cannot stop taking it.

I used to not even be able to leave the house because

of panic attacks. I had 10 a day even just at home.

I've been on it for 10 year. Every time I try to get off it,

I fail. I end up in the ER thinking that I'm going to die.

I love that you posted this helpful information. I have to

decide if panic is worse than RLS, I guess and ask the

doctor if we can try something else.

I've been through 8 yrs of counselling to help me cope

with Panic disorder. The pills are my only hope, I think.

Hidden in reply to Hidden

Yikes there are other panic pills that can be used which are RLS friendly. I dont know the names of them. You can e-mail Dr.B on his website he can tell you what may be the best to take.

nightdancer in reply to Hidden

I have panic disorder, karen. PM me, because we are both from the states, and Ib can tell you what Ib am taking. I promse you the Paxil is what is making your RLS worse, or may even be the reason it exists. There are other better and mre effect8ive meds, keeping in mnd we are all different. But, your RLS would most likely be a lot less than it is now. You are taking Paxil, and they gave you benedryl in the eR the other night, so your lege don;t stand a chance. Depends on how crippling that panic is and I do know about it. First thing on my disability papers is "severe sleep deprivation" caused by agoraphobic panic disorder

and PTSD, then chronic pain, the RLS. But, I got the panic pretty well under control, between counceling and meds.

nightdancer in reply to Hidden

I had panic attacks for years. I found the right meds, but I also find that doing deep breathing exercises for only 5 mins a day, give your brain a jumpstart in the right direction. With these exercises, I can even bring my blood pressure down about 10 points just in 2 mins in the doc's office. and feel your breaths. ;) Just focus on one thing with your eyes, nothing that will stimulate your mind wander. Breathe in thru the nose, and out thru the mouth, no talking or moving, sit straight up. Basic directions but it does work for many people. My panic attacks are mainly mild now, but when I do have one, it is usually in my own bed first thing in the morning. But, like the post said, many of these meds have to be tried carefully, and each is individual, even though this is the best list and most comprehensive list of meds and alternative methods of dealing. I saw a psychiatrist for years, and did talk therapy for 4 yrs. That is a huge help, being able to dump all that negativity to a counselor that just lets you go off, and guides you a bit. He was good, but could not prescribe meds, so hence the shrink, too. I have since "graduated" as of 2 yrs ago, Woo Hoo!

I cannot tolerate citalapram for depression,this makes my already severe RLS go through the roof,and the only antihistamine I can take is citirizine, I once tried Nytol,( I live in the U.K. So I don't know if you have this in the US, but I was tortured for about 10 hours with this product which is supposedly to help you sleep

Does anybody know if Ativan is ok or not?

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