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How to Identify and Treat Period Flu Symptoms Effectively

period flu symptoms
Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Bermix Studio

PMS symptoms vary from person to person and some have it worse than others. Period flu symptoms mimic the flu, but is it the same thing?

Between the bloating, acne, mood swings, cramps and bleeding, monthly periods aren’t much fun. If you’re unfortunate, your PMS symptoms may even mimic the flu by throwing nausea, fever or body aches into the mix. Hormones are to blame for these fluctuations as they are responsible for many biological processes within the body. Let’s take a closer look at some period flu symptoms and if there’s anything you can do to improve them. 

Period Flu Symptoms

While not actually a flu, the symptoms of period flu are similar.
While not actually a flu, the symptoms of period flu are similar.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Kinga Howard )

Premenstrual symptoms (PMS) affect every woman differently. Some people may have all symptoms, while others feel just one or two. How do you know if you’re experiencing period flu or just your run-of-the-mill flu? It has to do with the type and timing of your symptoms. Period flu symptoms are cyclical and line up with your menstrual cycle every month.

Common period flu symptoms include: 

  • nausea
  • cramps (intestinal as opposed to uterine)
  • brain fog
  • bloating
  • backache
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • tender abdomen
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • fever or chills

PMS symptoms can also be a pain, but they don’t mimic the flu in the same way. They are more of a direct result of hormone fluctuations and include symptoms like mood swings, tiredness or difficulty sleeping, breast tenderness, greasy hair, breakouts, and changes in sex drive or appetite. 

PMS vs. Period Flu

Every menstrual cycle is different.
Every menstrual cycle is different.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema )

Period flu is not influenza, commonly called “the flu.” It isn’t an illness or virus at all. Period flu is your body’s reaction to the fluctuating hormones that are natural during menstruation. The symptoms often occur due to the activation of the immune system. 

Two mechanisms in the body activate the immune system: the presence of infected cells and the presence of dead or dying cells. Period flu symptoms occur when your immune system is activated because of the dead and dying cells in the endometrium. These dead cells are shed through menstruation. 

Inflammation contributes heavily to the presence of flu-like symptoms. Your body generates prostaglandins which create cramping through inflammation to help your body shed the endometrial lining. At the same time, your body produces a higher amount of inflammatory cytokines in the uterine cavity. This inflammation can be stressful for your body and result in significant flu-like symptoms.  

Influenza, meanwhile, is a contagious respiratory illness spread by tiny droplets when people cough, sneeze or speak. Influenza affects approximately 8% of the US population annually and is not limited by gender or age constraints. 

What You Can Do About Period Flu Symptoms?

Eating a vitamin and mineral-rich diet can help alleviate period flu symptoms.
Eating a vitamin and mineral-rich diet can help alleviate period flu symptoms.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Yu Hosoi )

Knowing you’re not technically sick might be reassuring, but that knowledge doesn’t alleviate period flu symptoms. You can do a few things to feel better; however, if your symptoms worsen or become intolerable, check in with your healthcare provider. 

How to Address Period Flu:

  • Monitor your symptoms every month to understand how your body processes menstruation.
  • Try cycle syncing to take control of your hormones. 
  • Some antioxidants and minerals can help reduce inflammation. Try incorporating them into your diet. Possibilities include:
    • Zinc
    • Selenium
    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
    • Vitamins A, C, D and E
    • Vitamins B, B9, B6 and B12
  • Certain lifestyle changes may also alleviate symptoms. Stress management, regular exercise, sunlight exposure and getting more quality sleep are a great start. 
  • Figure out the best period comfort foods to eat and which ones to avoid to avoid worsening your symptoms. 
  • Gut health is correlated with the severity of symptoms, so eat foods that are naturally prebiotic or probiotic to improve your gut microbiome. 

Read more: 

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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