How to Survive Menopause When Dealing With an Illness

Updated on May 15, 2019
Nell Rose profile image

I managed the slippery slope of balancing my menopause and thyroid disease, and I want to share the dos and don'ts that got me through it.

Illness and the Menopause how to deal with it and keep your sanity
Illness and the Menopause how to deal with it and keep your sanity

This is aimed at patients who are suffering from an illness—particularly an autoimmune disease—on top of having menopause.

Starting Menopause With a Thyroid Disease

Hot flashes, fatigue, night sweats, a possible weakness of the bladder, and terrible, terrible premenstrual tension. Yes, you still get these symptoms even when your periods may have stopped. These are just some of the symptoms of the menopause. It hits some people like a sledgehammer, while for others, it slowly creeps up on them. But most of us tend to recognize menopause when it hits—unless, of course, you are suffering from another illness at the time.

My personal experience with menopause overlapped with a diagnosis of a thyroid disease.

I was diagnosed with Graves' disease smack bang in the middle of my menopause. Trust me when I tell you that it was not fun! One of the worse things about menopause is not getting enough sleep. You toss and turn all night long and wake up feeling like hell in a pool of sweat!

Always get a blood test done if you suffer from autoimmune illness when your menopause starts. This is to make sure you're not taking too many or not enough meds. Once menopause starts, it won't be easy to tell the difference.

Symptoms of Menopause Can Overlap With Symptoms of Some Illnesses

Hot, Hot, Hot!

The trouble with recognizing when you're in menopause is that the symptoms can be very similar to certain illnesses. For example, if you suffer from a thyroid disease, it's possible that you will sweat heavily throughout the day and night. Your bones will ache, and your heart will race faster than normal.

Here are more symptoms of menopause and thyroid illness that tend to overlap:

  1. Night sweats
  2. Aching arms and legs
  3. Sleeplessness
  4. Mood swings
  5. Fast heartbeat
  6. Thumping heart
  7. Headache
  8. Rushing (blood flow around the body that feels as though its speeding up)
  9. Chills
  10. Depression

Keep Cool!

Cool Care Technologies Cooling Gel Pad This Cooling Mattress Pad Helps You Feel Cooler in Bed, Ideal for Summer - Pressure-Activated Cooling Gel Technology, No Water or Electricity Required
Cool Care Technologies Cooling Gel Pad This Cooling Mattress Pad Helps You Feel Cooler in Bed, Ideal for Summer - Pressure-Activated Cooling Gel Technology, No Water or Electricity Required

My hubby bought me this for my side of the bed when I was suffering so much from hot flashes and Graves'. It was part of a package that included underwear, vitamins, and other items to help with the symptoms. I can't tell you enough about the relief it brought! Well worth buying. I managed to get some sleep, and he did too!

 

Finding the Perfect Underwear

Check out online and brick-and-mortar clothes shops menopause-specific underwear specially made for handling those hot flashes and night sweats.

Thyroid Medication Seemed to Worsen My Menopause Symptoms

Medication for your illness can sometimes make your menopause worse—at least in my experience.

When I started taking carbimazole, I began suffering badly from symptoms of fibromyalgia. My whole body felt like it had been run over. Pain in my arms and legs was excruciating, and it made my menopause much more painful. I didn't have just hot sweats but dripping, boiling blood sweats. Trust me. It wasn't pleasant.

It's hard to say what's causing all the increased distress. It could be a vicious cycle: the thyroid disease symptoms are worsening the menopause symptoms, which in turn, are worsening the thyroid disease symptoms.

Well, in any case, don't panic; there are ways to find out and put them both in their rightful place. At this point, I have to say that not all illnesses are similar to thyroid disease. But if you have an autoimmune disease like I do, it might make you feel and look a mess!

How I Coped With the Stress and Chaos

With all the sweats, chills, sleeplessness, lack of sex drive, and mood changes, menopause can be very distressing. Many people do sail through it without a problem, but if you suffer from another disease, the symptoms can feel worse. I remember trying to drag myself to work through all the pain, sweat, and tears.

So what can we do to alleviate the problem?

Learning the differences between the symptoms of your illness and the symptoms of menopause is a start. Now that may sound obvious, but it was tremendously helpful for me.

Research your disease on reputable health sites. Buy a book that explains your illness. You may have had the illness for many years and think this is a waste of time. Trust me when I tell you it's not. I went out and bought a fantastic book about Graves' disease and other thyroid illnesses. I was surprised to find that I had missed so many symptoms.

Be Gentle With Your Hair

One of the horrible things about thyroid illness and menopause is hair loss. Try and keep away from hair dryers, coloring, etc. Just be gentle with your hair, and it should be fine. Vitamins can be a great help if you have problems with your hair.

Dealing with all the symptoms of menopause and your illness can take up a lot of your mental energy. I've found that leaving notes for myself helps me stay organized and get things done.
Dealing with all the symptoms of menopause and your illness can take up a lot of your mental energy. I've found that leaving notes for myself helps me stay organized and get things done.

Tips to Survive Menopause When You Have an Illness

Be Your Own Advocate

  1. Educate yourself. Read two books: one about menopause and one about your illness.
  2. Monitor your meds. Do any medications you take affect your menopause symptoms? If so, let your GP (doctor) know, and see if you need to raise or lower the doses—or even change what time of day you take them. It's important to discuss this with your GP first before altering your treatment regimen.
  3. Ask your doctor about black cohosh, an herb commonly used in alternative medicine to treat symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, to see if it's right for you. Only take it with your GP's advice. Mixing prescriptions, supplements, and herbs without proper consultation could worsen your situation—or decrease the effectiveness of the medications you're currently taking. Check and check again!
  4. Every night, write down everything you have to do the next day. Dealing with all these symptoms can take up a lot of your mental energy, and you may be more prone to memory problems. If you write down things down, you won't forget important things like taking your meds or going to see your doctor.

Try Different Strategies to Keep Cool

  1. Sleep on cotton sheets with only a couple of blankets, if needed. A duvet is pretty much a no-no when you are sweating.
  2. Try not to have too many hot showers. If you can bear it, make the water a few degrees cooler. This will balance your body much better than too much heat. Hot water will work for a few minutes, but when it cools, you will sweat again.
  3. Relax. Read, watch TV, or just sleep. If those hot flashes are being a pain, put your feet in a bowl of cool water. It balances the rest of your body.

Stay Active and Get Fresh Air

  1. Try to get a lot of exercise. Sounds strange? Even a 10-minute workout can balance your body (and mind) better than any medication! Of course, if you are chair-bound, or your body hurts too much because of your illness, then gentle movements like arm swings, ankle rolls, and feet lifts can still be just as useful.
  2. If you are capable, try yoga. You don't have to do the hard stuff. Just gentle stretches or exercise of any sort can help.
  3. Try and get as much fresh air as possible. A dry, stale environment will make you either sweat too much or get dehydrated.

Stay Hydrated and Eat Small Portions

  1. Drink lots of fluids. Water is always best, but cranberry juice and lemon barley are great for keeping your bladder healthy.
  2. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine. Both will make your symptoms worse.
  3. Keep an eye out for water infections. As your hormones start to drop, you can suffer from dehydration, which in turn, can cause trouble with your bladder.
  4. Eat a smaller portions—especially in the evening at dinner. This may help your body maintain energy throughout the day.

Take Time for Yourself to Care for Your Mental Health

  1. Don't be surprised if you find that you cry a lot. Don't worry about it; cry as much as you like. Crying releases chemicals in your body that calm you and help you feel better.
  2. If you start to suffer from anxiety or mood swings, take a rest. It doesn't matter if you are still working, tell your employer that you have to have a few minutes to calm your mind and body.
  3. Talk to your family or friends about how you are feeling. If you feel that it is much too personal, join an online support group or local help group to discuss how you are feeling mentally and physically. Speaking with other patients can sometimes be more useful than seeing your GP since your GP is usually in a hurry and doesn't always understand what you're going through.
  4. Surround yourself with color. Sounds strange? There are a lot of theories about the effects of color on the mind, body, and behavior.

Final Thoughts

You can't remember everything. You've got enough on your plate. One thing I noticed about going through menopause with a thyroid illness is that my brain turned to sludge. That's why you should take notes—lots of notes, if possible. If you find that things keep slipping your mind, writing things down is the best way to keep on the right track.

Besides taking care of yourself, ask your partner or a family member to watch out for you. You may sometimes act vaguely, you may forget to take your tablets, and you may forget appointments. Let them know that if they see you staring into space for more than a few minutes, they should make an appointment with your GP to see what can be done.

You can and will get through the menopause. Hopefully, with these tips, a lot more easily than you thought.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Nell Rose

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        6 months ago from England

        You can get tablets for it from the Chemist, not sure what they are called over there though. Thanks

      • schoolgirlforreal profile image

        schoolgirlforreal 

        6 months ago

        Great tips for when I get it, right now I have severe pms and I get so irritable! I wish there was something for that!! And fatigue.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        BGrey, I have deleted your comment because I believe you have put it on the wrong article. This is about menopause and pain.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Dianna, yes it was a bit weird at the time, lol! but if it helps others through the menopause then that's great.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        7 months ago

        Nell, I had little complications from menopause but I chalk it up to the good advice you share here and that I followed. You have been through so much yet you remain strong. Thanks for sharing from your personal experience to help others through this season of life. God bless you, sweet lady.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks, Thelma, Yes I can imagine how cold you were going from a hot country to a cold, glad you are alright now, and thanks

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        7 months ago from Germany and Philippines

        I am sorry to hear that you have complications during your menopause. I am so lucky to have not experienced those hot flushes, etc besides being forgetful during that stage of my life. Well, feeling cold yes but I didn't wonder as I have always felt cold in Germany.

        Great hub Nell and the tips are very useful. Have a great day.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Linda, yes it was a bit fard at the time, but it got better with the Meds thank goodness.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        It must have been very difficult to go through menopause while suffering from Grave's disease. I'm sorry that you had to experience that, Nell. Your suggestions should be helpful for people in a similar situation.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Peggy, it was like laying in cold water, Heaven!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        7 months ago from Houston, Texas

        In reading this, I am happy to know that menopause is now in your past. I well remember those days, and it was not fun. Compounding it with another condition would have made it even worse. Wish I had known about that cooling pad for the bed when I was going through menopause. You may be helping others who are just now going through it.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Dora, it was a while ago, but I remember it well! LOL!

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Ruby, yes that's one of the main things to be careful off. Thanks for reading.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Hi Linda, not sure who Wendy Williams is, I am in England so maybe she isn't on our TV. But yes, I must have fallen over/fainted loads when I was first diagnosed with Graves Disease. And yes a water infection is just another word for bladder infection. Thanks for reading.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        LOL! Paula, I wouldn't expect anything else from such a fabulous person as you! alway great to see you!

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Linda, I know what you mean, I could have sure done with my mum too at that time, hope it gets better for you.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Been over that hump, Nell. Glad you're over that difficult experience. Thanks for sharing some very helpful suggestions.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        7 months ago from Southern Illinois

        Nell, I had the night sweats and chills, glad that's over! Your piece was well written and informative, especially about mixing over the counter drugs with pharmaceutical meds.

      • Minnetonka Twin profile image

        Linda Rogers 

        7 months ago from Minnesota

        Great information Nell. I am so sorry to hear what you've been going through. I have a question-what is a water infection-is it like a bladder infection? I'm sure you heard that the t.v. Personality, Wendy Williams just found our she has Graves disease. She fainted on her show on Halloween. She was dressed up as the statue of liberty. My guess is there are many of us that are undiagnosed w/ something. Just to find out what's going on with your body must be an important part of the healing process. Hope your symptoms are @ a minimum these days my friend.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        7 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Nell....Uh-Oh! You're not going to like me at all when I tell you that I breezed through menopause without the slightest issue of any kind whatsoever.....Sorry. My mother, my sister and I...all 3 of us, escaped the entire nightmare. Just lucky? Who knows, but no complaints.

        I took a night course in "chromosomes" and DNA to try to understand familial traits for many reasons. But alas girlfriend, the only thing I learned was that now I LOOK AT MY X AND ASK Y?? Love ya, Effer

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        7 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Nell, I'm sorry you've had such difficulties. This aging thing isn't for sissies, that's for sure, and going through menopause makes me wish my Mom was still here so that I could apologize for all the times she was probably feeling crappy and had a terrible teenager to contend with (when I was 13 she was 57).

        This will be helpful to so many people. Thank you for taking the time to write.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        I forgot to add, swimming is a great way for exercising and keeping cool! And I did it nearly every day, lol!

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Flourish and Lorna, glad you found it helpful.

      • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

        Nell Rose 

        7 months ago from England

        Thanks Pamela, yes lupus is painful isn't it?

        Good thinking Eric, yes you have to know what she is going to go through! lol!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        7 months ago from Sunny Florida

        I am sure getting diagnosed with Graves disease at the same time as menopause arrives must be difficult, to say the least. I didn't have too much difficulty even though I have lupus. My mother had much for difficulty.

        I think keeping a journal is one of your best suggestions, and you had several good ones. Great article Nell.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Clearly this is not considered to be a man's issue. But--- I went straight to the about mixing up medicine and supplements as it applies to all matters.

        But more importantly I think we owe it to our spouses to be informed so we support in a healthy fashion

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        7 months ago from USA

        It sure isn’t easy aging! You provide excellent tips here, Nell. I’m sorry you’ve had it so rough.

      • Lorna Lamon profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        7 months ago

        This is an excellent informative article and one I will refer to when the Menopause hits. Thank you for sharing.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, patientslounge.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://patientslounge.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)