Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ladies, it might not be hormones...

Hi Everyone,

I just thought I'd let you know about something surprising that has happened to me, just in case it's happening to you and you don't know it.

For the last while I've been feeling a little out of sorts with all sorts of weird annoying symptoms, not enough to bother me terribly much.

I've been super sensitive to sounds I don't like and they turn me into a raving lunatic. My poor husband is hardly allowed to eat around me. I seem to have a hard time regulating my body temperature and am chilled a lot. I'm often asleep on the couch and then don't sleep well at night. I've also been moody. I have a perpetual eye twitch and just recently I've been wondering why my asthma seems to be kicking in all the time instead of being cold temperature induced. I've had a dry cough as well. I sometimes seem to have a harder time concentrating and my rest tremor seems to be really acting up. Also just recently I've been having a touch of vertigo when I roll over in bed.

I'm 45 and I automatically assumed that a lot of this was hormone related. When you read about perimenopause many of the symptoms are what I've got. My noise issue has always surfaced as a hormone related issue and when I was briefly pregnant it was one of the largest irritants. It's something to do with the increased pressure on the ear due to water retention. I've also been attributing some of the moodiness and depression to the upcoming second anniversary of the loss of my pregnancy. Some of the other symptoms such as the chills I've been attributing to a possibly mild case of swine flu or just being run down. Vertigo comes with my colds and I've also got a history of very low blood pressure so that was easily explained.

So last week I went to my doctor and told her that I had a whole host of symptoms and that I was going to come across as a bit of a hypochondriac. She laughed at me, said I wasn't crazy, and took down the symptoms and gave me a requisition for bloodwork. Within 24 hours of drawing my blood my doctor had left me a message.

Turns out my hormones are fine and that while perimenopause may be a contributing factor, what's been driving most of my symptoms, including the asthma are my ridiculously low iron levels. I am 10 times below normal levels! That's surprising in some ways since we tend to eat a lot of iron rich foods, but my body has been changing with age and I'm sure that I'm losing a lot of it each month since that's been another irritant (sorry Dad and other guys, I know that's too much information and I tried to write it gently).

Iron deficiency anemia and perimenopause share many common symptoms including moodiness, fatigue, and lack of concentration. But even better, iron deficiency explains the chills, the asthma, and some of the other symptoms I've been having.

I haven't had a chance to speak with my doctor yet about what this means but I'm pretty much thrilled with the diagnosis. It means I'm not a hypochondriac and iron supplements are so much easier than the "just wait it out and deal with it" type of approach that we women are supposed to take as we enter our hormonally deficient years. Supposedly I'll start to see improvements very soon and I'm looking forward to that.

So, you women in your 40s, don't do what I did and just assume that it's hormones, get your iron levels checked as well. The solution might be easier than you think.

It still doesn't necessarily explain the eye twitch, but I've got appointments to figure that out.

Anyhow, I thought this was important to share just in case others are resignedly dealing with what they think are symptoms of becoming a woman of advanced age.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wise words. I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia twice: the first time, in my early forties, I became so run-down with fatigue that I developed pneumonia, and they only discovered the anemia on the bloodwork. The second time, ten years later, I was bleeding heavily because of perimenopause---135 days out of 180 at one point---and my iron went dangerously low. It was fixed almost overnight by the best little surgical procedure ever, a balloon endometrial ablation. Now in my late fifties, I have much more energy than I ever had in my thirties. I blame all the fatigue of my child-bearing years on periods, and the associated iron loss they cause.