About Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome

The premenstrual syndrome also known as PMS occur in women before 1 or 2 weeks before monthly period. It’s not just one symptom, the affected woman would experience a group of symptoms.  Usually, it affects all menstruating women, however, women between the age group of 30 to 50 would experience severe symptoms. PMS symptoms stop once you start to bleed. PMS would not affect women who are pregnant and those who have reached menopause. Ideally speaking, it would affect any woman after puberty and before menopause. When the PMS symptoms get worse, it leads to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD) another serious medical condition that needs to be treated with medicines and therapies.

Let’s know the cause

The real cause of PMS is not very clear, however, it is believed that the hormonal changes during menstrual cycle trigger this medical condition.  Stress and depression are not considered as the cause of PMS, however, these would aggravate the medical condition. Vitamin and mineral deficiency, eating salty food and consuming alcohol drinks and caffeine-containing drinks are considered as possible causes of PMS.

Symptoms of PMS

The PMS symptoms are not same for all, it varies from woman to woman.  Some would experience both physical and emotional symptoms. Though it’s quite annoying, it would not disturb the daily life.  But, when the symptoms worsen and affect the normal life, it should be treated. The common symptoms of PMS:

  • The breast would swell and become tender
  • Unable to sleep due to pain
  • Increase in body weight
  • Unable to focus
  • Binge eating and food cravings
  • Body pain
  • Feeling sad and tearfulness
  • Irritation and mood swings
  • Anxiety, aggression,and anger
  • Bloating
  • Severe headache
  • Constipation or loose tools
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings

PMS Diagnosis

Once your doctor diagnoses PMS after reading your symptoms. Start to keep track of your symptoms, this is essential to offer the right treatment. Get the PMS symptom tracker from your doctor and start recording the symptoms.

Treatment for PMS

Mostly, lifestyle changes can alleviate the PMS symptoms.  The following lifestyle changes are necessary to treat PMS

  • Include whole grains in your diet: Eat a lot of foods that are rich in fiber that include whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta instead of taking white bread and sugary cereals.
  • Reduce sugar and fatty food intake: At this time, your body would crave for sugary items, however, limit intake of sugary items.
  • Avoid salty food items: Reduce your sodium intake, especially for a week before periods. It’s advised to avoid hot dogs, canned foods, and chips that are high in sodium because they may worsen PMS symptoms.
  • Keep hydrated: You should drink a lot of water to keep you hydrated.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks: It’s better to avoid drinks that contain caffeine because it would increase tension and irritation.
  • Take calcium: You should eat foods that are rich in calcium that include milk, soy milk and dark leafy vegetable or take calcium supplements. Studies reveal that taking 1300mg of calcium daily would help to reduce PMS symptoms.
  • Do exercise: Do exercises like running, walking and dancing.
  • Stay away from alcohol: Drinking alcohol may aggravate your PMS symptoms and make you feel depressed.

Medication for PMS

  • Antidepressants which are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are prescribed for women with severe PMS or PMDD.
  • Pain killers are prescribed to alleviate some of the painful symptoms like stomach cramps, muscle pain and headache.
  • Oral contraceptive pills prevent ovulation (egg release from the ovary) and reduce some of the PMS symptoms.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy will also help to treat PMS. A cognitive behavioral therapist can help you to handle these symptoms.

If you think that you have PMS, maintain a diary to keep track of symptoms which you will experience 7 to 10 days before periods. Consult your doctor and discuss the symptoms. Stay alert, ignoring the symptoms may lead to serious consequences.

Image Courtesy: James Palinsad

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