"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Beyond the nice and cozy glow

We're told what to anticipate once we're expecting—but not a lot in midlife, when we will now not expect to live in a body that now not appears like ours.

Yet that is what happens to a shocking number of girls as they approach menopause. Relatively predictable symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and periods of hide and seek could be overwhelmed by a tsunami of latest worries from head to toe.

What has modified? You are moving along the spectrum of declining hormones in an extended, often fluctuating process. And while all sex hormones ping-pong throughout the menopause transition — defined because the years before the menstrual cycle ends — the drop in estrogen, particularly, triggers a wave of low-grade inflammation. Which can result in complaints throughout the body.

The mental effects could seem unpleasant.

“Do I have Alzheimer's disease?” Dr. Heather Hirsch hears this query almost day-after-day from women who come to the Menopause and Midlife Clinic at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Why? Many people fear their cognitive problems—forgetfulness, attention deficits, difficulty understanding information—should be an indication of dementia. But this rarely happens in midlife, when a drop in estrogen can exacerbate brain fog. According to the National Institute on Aging, fewer than 10 percent of the 6 million Americans with Alzheimer's are younger than 65.

How are you able to tell the difference between menopausal brain fog and Alzheimer's symptoms? Dr. Hirsch recommends looking forward to these more inflammatory symptoms:

  • Once lost in familiar places
  • Forgetting tips on how to do on a regular basis tasks, like zipping up your jacket or turning on the stove
  • Frequent loss of things or misplacing them in strange places.

If you're anxious about cognitive symptoms — or if family and friends have expressed concerns about you — refer to your doctor. She may refer you for special neurological testing to search for dementia or one other underlying condition.

A protracted list of problems

The average American woman has her last period at age 52. But the symptoms related to menopause — marked by a full 12 months with no period — can begin years earlier and persist long after. Symptoms may additionally increase during what is named the late menopausal transition, when periods can last 60 days or longer.

Since virtually every organ has estrogen receptors, hormone fluctuations affect all parts of our body. But a drop in estrogen — which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects — also triggers a cascade of low-grade inflammation that may reach every cell. A study in 2020 Journal of Neuroinflammation This is why menopause describes the transition as a “triggering event.”

Either alone or together, hormone drops and inflammation may cause unexpected symptoms in the next areas, amongst others.

digestive system. Inflammation is linked to a condition called leaky gut, which may encourage bacteria to leak out of the intestinal lining and trigger digestive problems, resembling gas, or worsen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. can Research also shows that about half of girls cope with frequent heartburn and other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease around menopause.

The skin Noticeable skin changes around menopause, resembling dryness and thinning, are common. But each may worsen the scarring and scarring that characterize eczema and rosacea. Psoriasis flares; According to 1 study, about half of girls whose condition worsens during menopause.

joint Hard, painful joint swelling is common, but few women discuss it, says Dr. Hirsch. Osteoarthritis will be the offender, she says, but menopause-driven inflammation likely plays a task. A study found that greater than half of girls cope with joint pain during menopause.

the eyes More than six in 10 women develop dry eye syndrome – dry, itchy, itchy, irritated eyes – around menopause. According to a 2017 study, changes within the balance of sex hormones affect the “tear film” that keeps the eyes moist.

ear Even the inner ear, essential to our sense of balance, shouldn't be proof against hormonal changes. These may cause dizziness or vertigo, says Dr. Harsh.

Heart According to a 2012 study, menopausal hot flushes or “hot flashes” affect as much as 47 percent of girls. Menopause. But you must track this trend rigorously, says Dr. Hirsch, since it could indicate an underlying heart problem. Note the day and time of the month you're feeling the cramps, in addition to some other menopause-related symptoms you're experiencing.

Allergies. Hay fever may start or worsen in your 40s, or chances are you'll find that you simply are allergic to foods that were never an issue before. This is because fluctuating hormones can result in a rise within the body's production of histamine, which relieves symptoms resembling itching and swelling brought on by allergens.

Sort through the clues

Dr. Hirsch says it often takes a 12 months or more for a lady coping with seemingly strange symptoms to find a connection to menopause.

“A lot of women tell me they get to 48 or 50 and then everything falls apart,” she says. “A few years ago he was the picture of perfect health, and now he's taking four or five medications and going to the doctor all the time and he has no idea what's going on.”

Considering the results of menopause on the entire body, Dr. Hirsch hopes that future research will link the phenomenon to specific symptoms to further tease out these relationships.

“We need people in different fields to recognize that menopause is not just a silent phenomenon where periods stop, it's not a disease, but it looks like a disease, where people don't feel well. They do and their lives are turned upside down,” she says. “There's a lot to uncover.”

Even our jaws can feel the bite of perimenopause.

There appears to be no end to the ways in which estrogen loss may cause disturbing changes throughout our bodies. Now a brand new study suggests it may additionally fuel symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which affects twice as many ladies as men and affects the jaw, or muscles that control jaw movement. Marked by muscle pain.

For the evaluation, published within the journal June 2022. MenopauseThe researchers divided 74 women with TMD symptoms into three groups based on menopausal stage. The researchers then checked out how the intensity of the pain may be related to the ladies's stages of menopause. They found that each TMD pain and menopausal symptoms were worst in late menopause — when periods last 60 days or longer — in comparison with after periods stopped completely. than at any point within the years of

Although this study found a relationship between the severity of jaw pain and the stage of menopause, it cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship. But since the jaw joint has receptors for each estrogen and one other female hormone, progesterone, the findings weren't surprising, says Dr. Heather Hirsch, chief of the Menopause and Midlife Clinic at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

She advises women fighting jaw pain to hunt treatment. This may include a custom mouth guard to forestall you from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw — movements that aggravate TMD pain.

Ways to forestall inflammation

While you wait for hormone levels to settle, you'll be able to turn to lifestyle measures that “help your body turn a corner” by curbing inflammation, says Dr. Hirsch. “. Try these tactics:

eat the rainbow Eat brightly coloured vegetables and fruit, that are wealthy in anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Smart options include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, leafy greens, berries, apples, beets and peppers. “You don't necessarily have to go vegan, but try to eat more plant-based foods,” says Dr. Hirsch.

Leave the packed goods. Processed sugar and carbohydrates, which increase inflammation, are sometimes hidden in boxed foods resembling cookies, candy, pasta, cereals and microwaveable foods.

Go for healthy fats. Good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish resembling tuna, salmon and sardines. flaxseeds and walnuts; And free-range chicken.

Spice it up. One spice stands out: turmeric, the Indian spice that dominates many curries. Many studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a significant component of turmeric.

Beat the back pressure. Calming activities resembling yoga, reading, meditation, listening to music, or walking outside can reduce inflammatory markers within the bloodstream.

Get your heart pumping. Regular aerobic exercise packs a one-two punch by reducing levels of inflammation together with stress. “Movement is so important, and even simple movement helps,” says Dr. Hirsch.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. “Both are important, because some women self-medicate when they're not sleeping well during menopause,” says Dr. Hirsch. “Increasing alcohol consumption in our late 40s is also very common. But it disrupts sleep and can also cause mood problems.”

Photo: © Nicky Zelowski/Getty Images