Unveiling Surprising Symptoms in Menopause: Beyond Hot Flashes
While the mention of hot flashes and night sweats may ring a familiar bell for many, menopause also ushers in a range of unexpected symptoms that catch women by surprise. While many people are familiar with hot flashes and night sweats as common symptoms, there are other symptoms that may come as a surprise during this transition. Understanding these lesser-known symptoms can help women navigate menopause with greater awareness and seek appropriate support.
- Dizziness or Ringing in the Ears: Finding Balance Amidst Change
Menopause can bring about shifts in blood circulation and hormone levels, which may lead to sensations of dizziness or a spinning feeling. Some women may also encounter a persistent ringing, buzzing, or whistling sound in their ears, known as tinnitus. These symptoms can be very bothersome and impact daily life. To manage these symptoms effectively, there are several strategies that can be helpful.
Firstly, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation can assist in reducing the intensity and frequency of dizziness episodes. Additionally, staying well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important, as dehydration can worsen dizziness. It is also ideal to avoid triggers that can worsen these symptoms, such as caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to increased dizziness and tinnitus.
- Sore Joints and Muscles: Easing Aches and Pains
Fluctuating hormone levels during menopause can result in discomfort and achiness in the joints and muscles. Reduced levels of estrogen, an important hormone for maintaining healthy tissues, can contribute to inflammation, leading to symptoms such as stiffness, joint pain, and muscle aches.
To lessen these discomforts, engaging in regular low-impact exercises, such as walking or swimming, can be beneficial. These exercises help improve joint flexibility, strengthen muscles, and reduce pain. Additionally, practicing gentle stretching exercises, focusing on the affected areas, can help relieve stiffness and improve mobility.
Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods can also have a huge impact. The Mediterranean diet is well-researched as one of the best anti-inflammatory diets with its focus on lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans and citrus. Also, the Mediterranean diet uses Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is rich in a compound called oleocanthal which has the same pain and antiinflammatory properties as ibuprofen!
- Depression or Anxiety: Nurturing Emotional Well-being
Menopause can bring about changes in mood and emotional well-being due to hormonal fluctuations and the added stressors of daily life. It is not uncommon for women to experience feelings of depression, sadness, or anxiety during this phase.
Taking care of one's emotional well-being is crucial during menopause. Engaging in regular physical exercise, such as brisk walking,, can boost the production of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones, and help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Prioritizing self-care activities especially sleep and whole foods can provide big support for brain neurotransmitters which are responsible for mood.
- Food Sensitivities: Honoring Your Body's Response
During menopause, some women may develop new or heightened food sensitivities. Hormonal changes can affect digestion and the body's response to certain foods, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, inflammation elsewhere in the body or digestive discomfort.
Keeping a food diary can be a useful tool in identifying trigger foods that may be causing these sensitivities. By recording the foods consumed and any subsequent symptoms, patterns and connections can be recognized. This information can help pinpoint specific foods that may need to be avoided or reduced in the diet.
Incorporating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet can also contribute to managing food sensitivities. Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. These provide essential nutrients while reducing the likelihood of triggering digestive symptoms.
Menopause is a unique journey for each woman, and while hot flashes receive a lot of attention, it is crucial to acknowledge that menopause can bring a variety of surprising symptoms. Dizziness or ringing in the ears, sore joints and muscles, depression or anxiety, and food sensitivities are among the lesser-known manifestations. By understanding these symptoms and seeking appropriate support, women can navigate menopause more easily and enjoy better well-being.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018). Menopause. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/menopause
The North American Menopause Society. (2021). Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. Retrieved from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal
Mayo Clinic. (2022). Menopause: Symptoms & causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397