5 surprising symptoms of dehydration during menopause and perimenopause

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

18 March 2024

Menopause and dehydration

For those of you who have been following my blogs for a while, you know how much store I put in drinking plenty of water every day. It can make such a difference to so many symptoms, and so many of you tell me that you've started drinking a bit more water and, within a week or two, symptoms have eased, sometimes quite dramatically. So, it's such a super simple self-care remedy for menopause.

With dehydration, the usual symptoms would be things like headaches, a fuzzy head, poor memory, and bloating. It can also be things like palpitations, dry skin, vaginal dryness, and bladder infections. There's a whole raft of common menopause symptoms that can either be triggered or made worse by dehydration.

Surprising symptoms triggered or made worse by dehydration

I was doing a little bit of reading the other week, and I came across some surprising symptoms, and I just thought, "Wow." Most of them I didn't know either. So, it's one of these learning days for me too.

So, here are 6 of the surprising ones to be aware of:

1. High Blood Pressure

I was quite surprised at this one. High blood pressure is a really, really common symptom in perimenopause and menopause, but may not initially have symptoms you associate with blood pressure. This is one of the reasons they call high blood pressure’ the silent killer’ because, very often, you don't know you have high blood pressure until you end up with a heart attack or a stroke. So apparently, if you're dehydrated, your blood volume decreases, and it makes it more difficult for the heart to pump the sticky blood around the body.

Our blood pressure tends to go up first thing in the morning when we wake up (it's just one of the natural processes), but this is one that you can mitigate to some extent. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water during the day, but have a small glass of warm water just before you go to bed. This can be even more beneficial if you're getting night sweats or flushes during the night, because you're going to be even more dehydrated, and that could have an even bigger impact on your blood pressure first thing in the morning.

2. Carbohydrates and Sweet Cravings

This is another really interesting one. If you're active for a certain length of time (it could be doing exercise, it could be that you just have an active job, it could be that you're doing a lot of walking), your body uses stored glucose. It's called glycogen. This is stored in the liver. If you are dehydrated, your body needs more of this, so your body will use this stored glucose from the liver as energy. But once it's used all that up, and especially if you're sweating due to exercise as well, your body needs that energy back really quickly. Then, the minute you slow down and stop, you will start to crave carbohydrates or really, really sweet things. So, it's really important in this situation, if you are active doing walking, an active job, or you're going to do some serious exercise, to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. And with the exercise, have a good drink maybe about an hour before you go and do your exercise, and drink during the exercise that you're doing, rather than waiting until the end to have a drink.

3. Acid reflux

What happens in this situation? Very often, our stomach acid decreases during perimenopause and menopause. It tends to cause the same symptoms as over-acidity, so you will get acid reflux. But if you're producing less acid because you are dehydrated, you're going to get the same symptoms. You are going to think, "Oh, maybe it's over acidity." You then go and take antacids, which can make the situation worse.

So, if you're getting a lot of acid reflux after eating, then drink some water, maybe about an hour before you sit down to eat. Don't drink a lot whilst you're eating because that's going to dilute all your gastric juices further.

Another really interesting thing about this situation is the impact of cold water; and especially in the summer, we're all guilty of it, we'll have a glass of something cold when we are eating. Cold water switches off / deactivates our digestive enzymes. And that's going to contribute to less stomach acid as well. So, don't drink cold water near or whilst you are eating. Take it away from meals. I tend not to recommend cold water anyway, because sometimes it can trigger flushes and sweats. I always tend to recommend room temperature or warm water, if you're drinking it on its own.

4. Flushed face

If you're continually finding that your face is really flushed, this can be due to dehydration too. Now, this can be due to quite a few other things; it can even be something like acne rosacea. But apparently, dehydration will affect the moisture in the skin and especially the face, so that's another thing to bear in mind.

5. Eye problems

Dehydration can affect your eyes. So, it can affect your sight itself, and it can also cause things like blurred vision. It can cause really irritated dry eyes too.

A lot of people tell me that they end up either having to wear glasses for the first time when they hit perimenopause or menopause, or they find that they have to get the strength of their lens changed much more regularly. So, part of that could be just due to dehydration.

It can also cause burning eyes. You can become more sensitive to light generally. But also, you can get sunken eyes! If you think, "Oh, my eyes seem to be getting smaller," that could be part of the problem. Also, a classic sign of dehydration is really dark circles just under the eyes.

What can you do to help yourself?

So, the main signs of dehydration, apart from the usual symptoms that I covered above, are things such as fatigue and the colour of your urine. Your urine tends to be a very dark colour if you’re dehydrated. It might have quite a strong smell too, so just bear that in mind.

Remember, too, that some medications can turn your urine a different colour. Vitamin B complex tablets are a classic example. They can make your urine smell really strong and turn your urine a bright green or yellow colour. Also, if you're going to the toilet and just passing a dribble, very often, that can be a sign of dehydration too.

So, remember: drink loads of plain water during the day and have a small glass of warm water at night. And try and prevent your blood pressure from remaining high after you've got up. Make the first thing you do, to have a big glass of warm water, before you have your breakfast and before you have that cup of coffee or tea.

So, I hope you found this one helpful. It's just one of these things that, very often, symptoms happen and we don't realise that there can be such a simple trigger for them. If you have any tips about dehydration or the best way you find to take water, please share them as always.

Until next time, take care and have a lovely week.

You may also find these topics helpful:

10 reasons to drink more water during the menopause

Menopause and Dehydration: Signs you need to drink more water

What type of water is best for the menopause?

10 self-care tips for perimenopause, menopause & post-menopause

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