Q: I’m 43 and recently became perimenopausal. The worst symptom for me has been an inability to concentrate. I also experience what feels like a loss of mental sharpness. Is this unusual, and is there anything I can do about it?
— Debbie B., Bend, Ore.
A: Although they are undesirable, the symptoms you describe are normal for the period around menopause.
Your mental sharpness can return by improving your diet, exercising, managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and taking supplemental bioidentical hormones.
Consider taking omega-3 fish oil (2,000 mg /day), vitamin C (1,000 mg/day), resveratrol (800 mg/day), and neurological optimizers that may help with concentration and focus.
Finally, find a great doctor who specializes in human identical/bioidentical hormones and begin an individualized regimen of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid, and see how quickly your brain returns to optimal function.
Q: Is there a certain age at which you should get your thyroid checked?
— Karen D., South Bend, Ind.
A: Any age is a good age to have your thyroid checked. But keep in mind that blood tests are only good if they are true reflections of your clinical status, meaning how you feel. You want a doctor who treats people and only uses tests to reinforce his/her clinical evaluation.
Get your thyroid checked if you feel tired for no good reason for more than a month, sleep poorly, lose hair, gain weight without overindulging, and feel bloated and depressed.
If your blood test is not helpful, you should take your basal temperature every morning for a month and see if it ever reaches 98.6 degrees F — normal body temperature. If it stays below that, you probably need prescribed thyroid supplementation to get you feeling better. You should also have your body composition evaluated at your gym or doctor’s office and see what your metabolic rate is. If it is below 1500 kcal, you probably do have an underactive thyroid.
Q: My sister had been feeling tired and was told by her doctor that she suffers from “adrenal imbalance.” What is this?
— Julie F., Baltimore, Md.
A: While it is true that adrenal burnout often is at the core of exhaustion, there are many other layers of imbalances we need to address before declaring someone suffering with “adrenal exhaustion,” “fatigue,” or “imbalance.” We are all tired because we don’t sleep enough, we exercise too little, and we don’t always eat a healthy diet.
What’s more, we are stressed by too many things going on in our lives — all of which disrupts hormone balance.
Thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are first in line for supplementation before jumping on our adrenals. An integrated program that addresses as many of your sister’s lifestyle issues as possible and helps her resolve them will better serve her than telling her she has an adrenal imbalance.
We all have adrenal imbalance and it is curable through the combination of caring support from an expert doctor and a patient committed to feeling better.
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