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Menopausal Women likely to Experience an accelerated Decline in Breathing Problems and Fatigue

Menopause brings hormonal changes that have been linked to systemic inflammation, which itself is associated with lung function decline

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Representational image. Wikimedia
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London, December 3, 2016: Menopausal women are likely to experience an accelerated decline in lung function, leading to increase in shortness of breath, reduced work capacity and fatigue, a study says.

The researchers found that menopause was more likely to cause restrictive, rather than obstructive, breathing problems.

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Obstructive breathing problems make it difficult to exhale air from the lungs while restrictive breathing problems make it difficult to fully expand the lungs upon inhaling.

“Whether obstructive or restrictive, the decline in lung function may cause an increase in shortness of breath, reduced work capacity and fatigue,” said lead author Kai Triebner from University of Bergen in Norway.

“Symptoms depend upon how much lung capacity is reduced, and a few women may actually develop respiratory failure as a result of this decline,” Triebner said.

For the study – published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine — the researchers analysed data from 1,438 women enrolled in the European Respiratory Health Survey.

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Participants in the study ranged in age from 25 to 48 at enrollment, and none was menopausal when the study began.

They were followed for 20 years and during that time most went through the menopausal transition or became postmenopausal.

The authors said there were several possible explanations for their findings. Menopause brings hormonal changes that have been linked to systemic inflammation, which itself is associated with lung function decline.

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Hormonal changes are also implicated in osteoporosis, which shortens the height of the chest vertebrae and may, in turn, limit the amount of air a person can inhale.

“Women, and their physicians, should be aware that respiratory health might decline considerably during and after the menopausal transition,” Triebner said. (IANS)

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  • Maria Jasmine Freeman

    I attest to these findings. I had absolutely no respiratory disorders whatsoever, before menopause-no asthma or allergy, or COPD, and at peri menopause I started having breathing difficulty with a sensation of incomplete lung filling. This progressed into puffing-and-blowing episodes which progressed further into groaning and grunting, peaking into apnea and literal gasping, and opisthotonos posturing, multiply per episode, in multiple episodes per day! Indeed one of my first menopause symptoms was easy fatiguability and cough, even before any menstrual irregularity!
    Estrogens are studded everywhere in a female body, in peripheral muscles but also in the brain. It seems reasonable that estrogen depletion affects not only skeletal chest muscle function but even the respiratory brain centre that controls respiration.
    My menopause was unprecedented, in so many aspects, with nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, electrifying pain, and total invalidation and stupor, and much much more, pointing to marked estrogen deficit, in concordance with the extreme effect on my respiration.
    After already 13 years of hot flashes consummation-on no hormone treatment, my respiratory status has amazingly improved, like many other symptoms, seemingly in parallel with estrogen correction probably at paraovarian sites.
    Expect anything and everything from menopause; it is a great mimic of every disease entity thinkable. After all, a human female body is all hormones, namely estrogens, and depletion of those could potentially cause any manifestation- like was my case!
    Dr Hana Fayyad, pediatrician ( Maria Jasmine Freeman, published author, on menopause).

  • Maria Jasmine Freeman

    I attest to these findings. I had absolutely no respiratory disorders whatsoever, before menopause-no asthma or allergy, or COPD, and at peri menopause I started having breathing difficulty with a sensation of incomplete lung filling. This progressed into puffing-and-blowing episodes which progressed further into groaning and grunting, peaking into apnea and literal gasping, and opisthotonos posturing, multiply per episode, in multiple episodes per day! Indeed one of my first menopause symptoms was easy fatiguability and cough, even before any menstrual irregularity!
    Estrogens are studded everywhere in a female body, in peripheral muscles but also in the brain. It seems reasonable that estrogen depletion affects not only skeletal chest muscle function but even the respiratory brain centre that controls respiration.
    My menopause was unprecedented, in so many aspects, with nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, electrifying pain, and total invalidation and stupor, and much much more, pointing to marked estrogen deficit, in concordance with the extreme effect on my respiration.
    After already 13 years of hot flashes consummation-on no hormone treatment, my respiratory status has amazingly improved, like many other symptoms, seemingly in parallel with estrogen correction probably at paraovarian sites.
    Expect anything and everything from menopause; it is a great mimic of every disease entity thinkable. After all, a human female body is all hormones, namely estrogens, and depletion of those could potentially cause any manifestation- like was my case!
    Dr Hana Fayyad, pediatrician ( Maria Jasmine Freeman, published author, on menopause).

Next Story

Sleep problems in menopause linked to hot flashes, depression

The women provided annual surveys and blood samples so that the researchers could track sleep disruptions, other menopausal symptoms and hormone levels

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To track poor sleep, the surveys asked questions about the frequency of insomnia, restless sleep and sleep disturbances.
To track poor sleep, the surveys asked questions about the frequency of insomnia, restless sleep and sleep disturbances. Wikimedia Commons

A study of middle-aged women by the University of Illinois (UI) found that sleep problems vary across the stages of menopause, yet are consistently correlated with hot flashes and depression.

The UI researchers used data from the Midlife Women’s Health Study, which followed 776 women aged 45-54 in the greater Baltimore area for up to seven years.

The women provided annual surveys and blood samples so that the researchers could track sleep disruptions, other menopausal symptoms and hormone levels as women transitioned from pre- to post-menopause, Xinhua reported.

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To track poor sleep, the surveys asked questions about the frequency of insomnia, restless sleep and sleep disturbances.

The study found no correlation between the likelihood of reporting poor sleep before menopause, during menopause and after menopause.

Depression and hot flashes are two risk factors vary in reported frequency across menopausal stages.
Depression and hot flashes are two risk factors vary in reported frequency across menopausal stages. Wikimedia Commons

This means that for many women in the study, their reported sleep problems changed as they transitioned to different stages of menopause. In other words, women who had insomnia during menopause were not more likely to have insomnia after menopause.

In analyzing the surveys for any other symptoms or factors that might be associated with poor sleep, the researchers found that hot flashes and depression were strongly correlated with poor sleep across all stages of menopause.

Those two risk factors vary in reported frequency across menopausal stages, which might help explain why poor sleep also varies across the stages, the researchers said.

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The findings suggest that addressing those risk factors may also address sleep disruptions, as well as give women hope that their sleep symptoms may not last past the menopausal transition, said Rebecca Smith, a UI professor of pathobiology.

Smith conducted the study with Jodi Flaws and Megan Mahoney, professors of comparative biosciences at Illinois.

The study has been published in the journal Sleep Medicine. (IANS)