Feeling Under the Weather Before Your Period?
Women have plenty to worry about when anticipating their period – missed activities, heavy bleeding, a potential leak. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s also common for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to cause flu-like symptoms that contribute to that all too familiar under-the-weather feeling. So, what’s actually causing the symptoms? Here’s what we know about the “period flu” and what you can do to avoid letting it bring you down.
Fatigue, Headaches, Nausea, Oh My
We’re all acquainted with the usual ailments that sneak up every month during PMS – cramps, bloating, inexplicable cravings or mood swings1, or in some instances, symptoms associated with PMDD. The fact of the matter is, PMS is not pleasant to begin with. However, some women may also experience feelings of nausea, fatigue, headaches2and more that may seem convincingly similar to the flu or common cold.
Am I Actually Sick?
While it’s true that a cold could hit at the same time as PMS, there’s a chance that those flu-like symptoms are caused by hormonal changes and prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals triggered during PMS that may contribute to symptoms like headaches, nausea, diarrhea2, and feelings of general unwellness. So in some cases, that “cold” may just be your usual monthly visitor.
What can I do?
If you determine your symptoms are not related to your immune system, the cold medicine in your cabinet may not do the trick. Luckily, there are a couple things you can do right at home for symptom relief.1 These tips may help you nix symptoms ASAP:
- Take a walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes (fresh air couldn’t hurt!)
- Apply a cool compress to your forehead
- Drink water to stay hydrated
- Drink something with real ginger – make a ginger tea or sip on ginger ale
Should I Talk to My Doctor?
Cycles vary from woman to woman, but if you find that your PMS symptoms are preventing you from keeping up with daily activities, or persisting beyond your cycle, it may be something more serious. Talk with your doctor to pinpoint the root cause of the symptoms, and find out if there’s a treatment option available for you.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome. Accessed July 30, 2018.
- What Causes Nausea Before Your Period, and How Is It Treated? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/nausea-before-period. Accessed July 30, 2018.