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Menopausal symptoms might be trying to tell us something.

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"Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind." 

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Wednesday. Happy birthday, Taylor Swift. I am sure you won't hear that come up at all today. I mean, it’s not like we are obsessed with her or anything. 

What is something else you probably won’t hear about today, but maybe you should? Are menopausal symptoms more than just an annoyance? Can they be a sign of something else? Let’s dive in.

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Menopause Symptoms And What They Might Mean 

Getting old isn’t always fun—your eyes get worse, your hearing gets worse, and you no longer do dinner reservations past 6:00 PM. Oh, and then there is menopause for women. 

Menopause, a phase marking the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles, brings about significant changes, one of which is a sharp decline in estrogen levels. This drop triggers various physiological symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats—all referred to as vasomotor symptoms (VMS). While some women might not experience VMS, others face these discomforts for over a decade. 

For some women, this is just another thing you have to deal with as you get older. But could these symptoms be telling us something more? 

Recent research suggests that these symptoms might indicate more than mere discomfort. Studies have shown that frequent VMS, especially during sleep, may be linked to adverse brain health outcomes later in life. Specifically, these symptoms could be associated with a higher risk of dementia. This is because estrogen is believed to have a protective effect on the brain, and its sudden decrease during menopause might increase dementia risk.

The connection between VMS and brain health was explored in an observational study by Thurston and colleagues. They used physiological measures to monitor VMS, such as changes in sternal skin conductance, which increases with sweating. This method offers a more objective way to assess the link between menopausal symptoms and cognitive decline, as opposed to self-reported data, which can often be unreliable.

In the study, 224 women underwent 24-hour physiological monitoring of VMS and kept a diary of their symptoms. They also had MRI scans to measure white matter hyperintensities (WMHVs), small brain lesions linked to cognitive decline and dementia. The study found that women with more frequent VMS, particularly during sleep, had greater WMHV.

Interestingly, the study discovered that this association was specific to VMS occurring during sleep. Even after adjusting for factors like age, race, education, cardiovascular risk factors, and sleep disturbances, the link between sleep VMS and WMHV persisted. This suggests a potential connection between the severity of menopausal symptoms and brain health.

However, the golden rule here still applies. Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation. The study also did not specify if factors like the duration of menopause or previous hormone replacement therapy use affected the results. 

That said, this research does highlight the importance of not dismissing menopausal symptoms as mere annoyances. If hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is found to delay the progression of WMHVs, it could offer a way to mitigate the risk of dementia. HRT, already known as the most effective therapy for VMS, might also help preserve bone density and other aspects of health.

The key takeaway? The findings of this recent study underscore the need for a deeper understanding of menopause and its treatments. Future studies should investigate if early intervention, like HRT, can alter the progression of WMHV and potentially reduce dementia risk. Until then, the growing evidence linking severe VMS to poorer health outcomes serves as a reminder that these symptoms should be taken seriously and treated appropriately.

This stuff isn’t just an annoyance. Using the big font on your phone so you can read your text messages is an annoyance. These symptoms are a lot more serious than that. 

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Tonic Shots

1. Stay Warm With A Whole Roasted Chicken!

Roasting a whole chicken is a great way to have plenty of food for leftovers! Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of delicious food roasting in the oven on a cold day!

2. One Of Our Favorite Soups!

This potato soup is a Daily Tonic favorite! And it is easy to make in a crockpot. Enjoy!

3. Another Favorite Soup To Stay Warm!

French onion soup? Are you kidding me? Enjoy!

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