As a woman ages, there is one thing she won’t be able to avoid — menopause. It happens to all women, typically starts between the ages of 45 to 55 and is accompanied by common side effects like hot flashes, and night sweats. However, more recently, women have found that menopause can also result in unusual side effects such as burning tongue, tingling extremities and itchy skin. Here are some of those menopausal side effects as well as ways to alleviate them.
Burning tongue is exactly what it sounds like. The woman experiences a burning sensation on her tongue, similar to the feeling of burning your tongue with a hot beverage. However, instead of going away within a few minutes, this condition is constant and has been known to last for years.
Hormonal imbalance, particularly low estrogen levels, is the cause, making menopausal women most susceptible. This condition affects 40 percent of menopausal women and typically occurs between three years prior to the start of menopause and 12 years following it. In addition to a burning sensation, low estrogen levels can also impact a woman’s bitter taste buds, which are located at the back of the tongue.
There are a variety of ways to alleviate this condition. One of the least intrusive is chewing sugar-free gum and drinking more water — both can stimulate saliva production. It’s also best for women to avoid spicy foods, cinnamon and mint as these can aggravate the condition. If more natural remedies are not sufficient, a physician can also prescribe medication for the condition.
Tingling extremities can be an unexpected symptom for some menopausal women. The tingling can affect any part of the body, but it is typically experienced in the feet, legs, arms and hands. It’s thought that this condition is the result of hormone fluctuations, primarily estrogen. Estrogen has a complex effect on the central nervous system, so when this hormone is unbalanced during menopause, it can affect the nervous system, producing the tingling sensations.
Many women can calm the tingling feelings with a balanced diet, hydration and adequate sleep. If further treatment is needed, women can seek alternative medicine or prescribed medications from their physician.
Another unusual symptom of menopause is itchy skin, which is not only uncomfortable but can disrupt a woman’s sleep patterns. For a small percentage of menopausal women, formication, or the feeling of ants crawling on the skin, might also occur. These skin changes are closely linked to hormonal changes and estrogen levels as estrogen plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and is responsible for stimulating the production of skin collagen. Lowered estrogen levels also decrease the body’s ability to retain moisture and slow down the body’s production of natural skin oils, which can also contribute to itchy skin.
Woman can typically care for itchy skin with natural treatments and lifestyle changes. These can include increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, increasing your vitamin B and water consumption, using gentle soaps and moisturizing after bathing. If you are still concerned about any skin condition, a dermatologist can offer alternatives or possible medicine to address the hormonal imbalance.
While vaginal dryness occurs in 40 to 60 percent of menopausal women, it isn’t talked about as frequently and, therefore, might seem unusual or embarrassing. This side effect is also caused by hormone changes and a decrease in estrogen, which impacts the moisture levels in the body, including the vagina. The decreased estrogen levels also make the vaginal tissue thin and less elastic as well as changing the pH level of the vagina making it more alkaline, which can increase irritation and the likelihood for infection.
Women should know that vaginal dryness is not permanent and can be managed through a variety of treatments including dietary adjustments (increased consumption of flaxseed and red clover), exercise, stress reduction and communication with one’s partner as well as over-the-counter products like vitamin E and vaginal moisturizers or prescription medications.
If you are near or in the midst of menopause, be sure to consult with your physician who can prescribe medicines including antidepressants, allergy pills, or joint pain creams for specific conditions. And, when looking for online sites to buy these pills or creams, MedicinesMexico.com offers menopausal-relief medications that can be delivered directly to your home.
Hands image by Horia Varlan from Foter’s Creative Commons.