Tuesday, September 06, 2016

As We Age... We Need Sports Drinks?

A few weeks ago, someone left a comment suggesting I try electorlytes to stave off migraines. I am too lazy to go back and find the post and comment... but thank you to whoever it was who made the suggestion, because I tried it (honestly, I am at the point with headaches where I'll try just about anything that doesn't cost a bunch of money and/or seem dangerous) and I believe I successfully staved off a migraine this weekend. Also, it seems to help with the garden variety headaches I've been getting lately. So, whoever makes Propel is doing well out of me right now.

I'm glad it helps, because nothing else was helping, and when I asked my doctor she agreed that it seems that the trigger is hormonal and well... as we age....

But I'm also frustrated by the fact that the electrolytes help but no one seems to know why. I'm not dehydrated: I sit in an office all day and I drink plenty of water, but not so much that I could possibly have a weird water poisoning type thing going on. So it is a mystery.

Also bothering me: why, all of the sudden, do I need to drink electrolyte mixes to avoid headaches during certain points in my cycle? What the heck changed? Is this normal? Is it a sign that something is missing from my diet?  After all, "sports drinks" is not a food group.

I've done some searching, and turned up an article about hormonal changes in menopause and fluid balance, which might eventually lead to something useful if I follow the trail long enough. From the bit I've followed so far and my vague memories of my endocrinology class in college, I suspect this is a not altogether surprising side effect of the hormonal wackiness of perimenopause and that given my options, drinking Propel is probably a decent response.

To really know, I'd need to dig some more and maybe even chase up my old endrocinology textbook and look at some regulatory pathways. But I don't want to sink a bunch of time into this. I have other things to do. I want to be able to ask my doctor and get solid advice about how to handle this phase of my life. I like my doctor and generally think she's on top of things, but it seems like the medical consensus on any concern of a perimenopausal woman is to shrug your shoulders and say "as we age...."

At some point, I'll cave and go trawling through PubMed and see what I can find out about aging as a woman. I suspect I'm not going to turn up many definitive answers. It seems to me that we've been a bit fixated on the question of whether or not hormone replacement therapy is a good idea. Fine, that is a reasonable priority to have. But I'm curious about more basic things. We've treated menopause (and aging in general) like a disease and not a normal life phase, and this has perhaps obscured our view of what is normal and healthy for aging women. Sure, interventions that will make this phase of my life more pleasant would be nice, but I also just want to understand what's going on.

I guess I should get used to not having answers. You'd think the "yeah, your baby really can't handle it when you eat dairy even though your entire digestive system is between the cow's milk and the baby, and no, we don't know why, just have almond milk instead" thing would have prepared me for this. But it didn't. I'm affronted anew. Where's our basic curiousity? Come on, the milk thing is just weird!

Still, there's not much I can do about it. So I guess, I'll just go to bed. I finished my Propel while writing this post, and I don't have a headache anymore.


  1. Glad the electrolytes worked! The comments on the original thread were fascinating. A lot of the ladies there suspected that manganese and magnesium in these electrolytes helps with the hormones. And a suspicion was that bananas etc don't release it fast enough. Also one commenter mentioned people in US being deficient in these two? Don't know....

    Also another commenter talked about how stress + the menstrual cycle causes this....
    Anyway, here's the thread to read the comments - http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2016/08/electrolytes-and-migraine-accidental.html?m=1

  2. Yeah, I was also gonna say magnesium. Possibly potassium.

    I'm younger than you but also reading a lot of those perimenapause articles. I also think I need to get my thyroid checked.

  3. I feel like the medical field doesn't have the will to research something that isn't lethal. Women all survive menopause, so why study it? (I believe it's worth studying, but I bet no one is handing out money for the research.) My mom has various unpleasant skin conditions and her dermatologist almost always answers, "Well, it won't kill you, so no one has really studied it. Here's some steroid cream."

    Magnesium is key for me, too. If I don't take my Mg pill, my restless legs make it hard to sleep.

    1. Fyi, I am 34. Apparently this aging thing starts early.

    2. I've also had flare ups of eczema, similar to what I had when pregnant with Petunia. During the pregnancy eczema nightmare, someone suggested trying Dream Cream from Lush, and it helped. So I'm using it again (along with the cortisone cream). It is helping again. If your mom hasn't found a lotion she can use to get relief from itching in between times when she can apply the cortisone, she might want to try it. It is sort of pricey and I don't love the scent... but I love the way it stops the itchiness!

  4. Perpetua6:20 AM

    I've had hormonal migraines my whole adult life. I've never tried electrolytes though I have found sometimes if I eat sugar (something pure sugary, like a jelly bean) it helps. I might try a Propel type thing next time. But the best is really to get it before it turns to pain, and if I can do that, I take two Excedrin Migraines right away and it does stop it (but only if I catch it early enough). Grrr. I started having hot flashes at 40! @Nicole - it's the same with morning sickness (and by association HG) - it's just women's health and they won't die so - (shrug). Makes me crazy.

  5. I think I'm just starting, and my doctor said, "Yeah, there are no good tests, but we'll do the ones we have." They showed nothing, and he said, "Yeah, they're not very good tests, but you're probably right about menopause."

    I'm new to his practice, but I do like him as a doctor so far. (His tone, BTW, was sympathetic, not dismissive--it would be easy to read the comments above as dismissive.) But I have very few symptoms, and I don't know what lies ahead.

    One of my friends recommended this blog: http://ellendolgen.com/blog/. I've just started reading it, so I can't say much about it yet, but maybe it'll be helpful.

  6. I think it's your scientist leanings coming out that make you want to know why something works, not just that it works. There's a very large part of the population that would just accept the partial cure and go on with life. Of course, knowing why and how leads to being able to make better decisions and all kinds of good things so I'm not going to knock it (but then again, I have strong scientist leanings as well).

  7. I (almost certainly) have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS); and dysautonomia, often POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is almost always co-morbid. There are lots of interesting theories, and one of them is that our kidneys leak electrolytes, I think? Another one that makes sense to me for various other reasons is that because we have faulty connective tissue and our joints are unstable, our muscles are always working extra hard to stabilize them. Constant tense muscles equals constant extra adrenaline, which makes it hard to deal with the extra surges of adrenaline that happen in life, and we go back and forth slamming on the gas and the brakes, so to speak. And so the autonomic nervous system is messed up, with everything that entails.

    ANYWAY. So I was listening to a webinar by Dr. Pocinki about EDS and dysautonomia, and he believes that most Americans don't get enough salt in their diet. Definitely those of us with POTS need more salt, but according to him even the evidence that salt is bad for those with high blood pressure is actually a little sketchy. So though you're not drinking enough water to actually *poison* yourself, it may still be enough for your body to say "hey, this salt to water ratio isn't good!" and pee out most of what you just drank. (I guess technically you could call that poisoning, but not to the level that your body can't cope with it.) I know for me, I can be thirsty and feel dehydrated and peeing every few minutes, seems like... :( Dr. Pocinki also said it's hard to get too much salt, he's seen it only twice. Because your thirst response will kick in. (And, I assume, you won't be peeing it all out, then.)

    And yeah, like other people said, most of us don't get enough magnesium, either. Sometimes sugar also helps me a little -- going through caffeine withdrawal recently, eating often seemed to make me feel worse, contrary to all the advice about easing withdrawal symptoms. My theory is that being a little hungry gives a little bit more adrenaline, which my body is craving in the absence of the usual amount of caffeine... So sugar has the capacity to seriously mess me up, but also can work as a short-term aid.

    And I don't know how aging relates to all of this, but I know my cycle certainly plays into the dysautonomia. Lord. It's awful. Don't know all the details, though progesterone is the "relaxation hormone," right? So that's another adrenaline connection.

  8. I've since done away with sports drink and turn to good old fashion coconut drink. Yup, coconut water is rich in potassium and all the minerals women need. Yes, there's magnesium there, as well if I can remember. That being the case, I'm also drinking tons of water, but wait - there's such a thing as overdehydration! It seemed everything has a counterpart that's really bad for us. I've just read it here if you don't want to believe me, *sigh* http://backpackingmastery.com/basics/water-poisoning-treatment.html


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