3 more health risks you may be vulnerable to during & after menopause

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Menopause Advisor
@EileenDurward
Ask Eileen


16 August 2021

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I take a look at three more health risks you may be vulnerable to during menopause.

Last week, I talked about two health risks which women can face during and after menopause - osteoporosis and thyroid issues. So, today I cover three more that I get asked questions about.

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is something that can happen out with menopause. It's not necessarily a menopause symptom but you can be a lot more vulnerable to it.

With carpal tunnel syndrome, it's basically to do with one of the main nerves to the hand that links the thumb and the first three fingers. And this nerve runs through a sheath in the hand. And we know that if circulation is affected, and very often in menopause, low oestrogen can affect the little blood vessels.

Poor circulation can cause this tunnel to shrink and contract, and it can end up trapping this nerve, which then causes tingling. You can get numbness in the thumb and the first three fingers. Very often this can happen at night. So you wake up in the morning with this pain and discomfort in either one of your hands.

Some people find that just shaking their hands can help to dissipate the symptoms. So, that's a good little tip. If you find that shaking your hands can release the discomfort, then it may well be that you need to get these checked out by your doctor.

What can help?

So, in this situation, it is important to get medical advice because if you get it diagnosed early enough, there are physio exercises that you can do regularly that can help to prevent it from deteriorating. If it goes on for too long, sometimes you end up having to have an operation to relieve the nerve. And it's not something that you want to end up in the hospital with.

You can take herbs such as ginkgo biloba if you find that you also get cold hands and feet a lot. That can be an indication that circulation to these areas is not very good. And herbs such as ginkgo biloba can often be effective for helping with this.

You can maybe check out some exercises that you can do online as well.
Sometimes, it can be caused or made worse by dehydration. So again, just remember to make sure that you're drinking plenty of water regularly. Maybe a little bit of extra water just before you go to bed can sometimes ease symptoms.

2. Stroke

This is a serious one. And the problem here is that it's something that can happen with no warning.

Unfortunately, women, especially post-menopausal women, tend to be at a much higher risk and this can sometimes double after menopause, so it's really important to keep an eye on your cardiovascular health and keep your heart healthy.

Very often, the symptoms that can contribute to stroke are issues such as high blood pressure. And again, high blood pressure is a common menopause symptom that you may not realise you have.

There are very few symptoms with it. So, I would say, this is one of the health issues where it is important to get yourself checked regularly, but not every day. I have some women that get so panicky that they end up taking their blood pressure every day. That's going to cause stress. In the UK, you can go and ask at your local pharmacy to get your blood pressure checked, so maybe once every few months it is a good idea to do this.

Smoking can be a contributory factor to stroke, as well as excess weight. And we know it's much easier to put on weight in menopause and it's much more difficult to get it off.

Alcohol is another one and general poor diet. High cholesterol can be a particular issue with stroke, too.

What can help?

So, for this one, if you are worried about it, if this is something that happened in your family, then it may be an idea just to discuss preventative measures with your doctor.

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:
Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms. (1)

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3. Kidney stones

This can be excruciating. I know women have told me that kidney stones are more painful than giving birth but they can be really, really sore.

This can happen at any age. It can happen to men as well as women. But women of middle age, that's 40 to 60, which is the menopausal years, seem to be much more susceptible to kidney stones.

A huge factor that can cause kidney stones is dehydration. And we know that falling oestrogen can affect your body's ability to keep itself hydrated, so you're going to be much more vulnerable to dehydration and that, in turn, can make you much more vulnerable to kidney stones and also kidney infections, too.

What can help?

So, you need to look at drinking plenty of water. If you're getting hot flushes and you're getting night sweats, then that's going to compound the dehydration, so loads of water daily is needed. So, you're looking at drinking maybe a litre and a half of plain still water, over and above your other drinks such as tea and coffee, each day.

With kidney stones, especially kidney infections, or even if your kidneys are just a little bit dehydrated, you very often get lower back pain and a lot of people will mistake this for spinal issues. So, if you're regularly getting pain to the lower back at each side of the spine, then just double-check with your doctor.

Also, signs of dehydration would be very strong-coloured urine. And very often, your urine will have a very strong smell, too. So, if you are getting anything like this, first stop, loads of water, and if symptoms persist, then you obviously need to get some medical attention.

Look at your diet, too. Alcohol can be a big issue with kidney stones and also if you have a high salt diet, so maybe just go over your diet and make sure that you're keeping these things at a minimum.

So, hope you found these interesting and helpful. And, as usual, if any of you have any tips, then please share them.

Key things to take away from this blog:

  • While not necessarily directly caused by menopause, there are several health risks that women of menopausal age can be more prone to and therefore need to be aware of, these include – carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke and kidney stones.
  • Other health risks which menopausal women can face during and after menopause also include osteoporosis and thyroid issues, as well heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which I have covered before in other blogs.
  • If you are concerned about any of these health conditions or issues then please consult your doctor.

Until next week, take care.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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