Q: My mother is 65 and she went through menopause nine years ago. For the last few years, she has been feeling extremely warm internally, even when the weather is cool. She is easily agitated but once the sweat breaks out, she experiences a sense of relief.
Is there any reason for this condition?
A: What you have described is suggestive of symptoms related to menopause which include hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes such as irritability, anxiety or depression, palpitations, insomnia, vaginal dryness and fatigue.
These symptoms may start a couple of years before cessation of the menses (the perimenopausal period), and may persist for a few years after menopause. Their likely cause is related to the reduction in the level of female hormones that accompany menopause.
The duration of these symptoms depends on the individual.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms usually last between two and five years. However, some women may experience symptoms for a longer time. A number will experience hot flushes into their 60s.
However, it is also important to be aware of other underlying medical conditions that may show similar symptoms. For example, thyroid disease may lead to sweating, palpitations and irritability.
Sometimes the mood changes may be due to underlying psychological problems like depression.
You may want to take your mother to a doctor to ensure that the symptoms are not due to other conditions.
If the symptoms are mild and tolerable, treatment may not be necessary. Simple measures such as lowering the ambient temperature may help.
Some exercises may also be beneficial. But if the symptoms are severe and affect her daily activities, medication may be needed.
There are different treatment options. Some of these remedies include black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose oil, dietary soya products and vitamin E supplements.
You should consult a doctor on the risks and benefits of the various treatment options.
Dr Watt Wing Fong