Have you ever experienced period flu? And no. I am not talking about the PMS. I am talking about the flu-ish sickness that riles up just before your menses start rolling.
If you have, then you know how terrible things could get
For quite a while there has been an exciting debate as to whether such a thing exists. Well, period flu is not a myth and it’s as real as the crappiness that follows.
Moreover, period flu comes with signs and symptoms that look like other types of flu. You have to show caution when diagnosing period flu. Otherwise, you might end up overlooking something else hiding underneath the manifesting signs. Let’s say Covid–19 or even pregnancy.
Well, today, I am going to show you what causes period flu, how long it stays, and how you can treat it.
So, let’s get to it…!
What is period flu?
Period flu is a collection of symptoms that manifest in many women right before they begin flowing. These symptoms all point to the common flu illnesses you know. Thus, the name.
However, there is no medical term coined to define this condition up to date. It’s no wonder you will find some people referring to the period flu as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
As much as it is a real thing, there are still intriguing findings surrounding it in all this. In one instance, for example, it’s recorded that some people may not experience period flu at all!
On the other hand, some people get to deal with period flu every time they are about to start their menses. And in special cases, the symptoms show higher levels of severity in other people.
I guess that is why you still find the debate questioning its existence firing up in some forums.
If you fall under the bracket that gets the crap before the cramps, what matters is that you treat it. Lucky for you, most cases of period flu can get treated through basic home remedies.
Now, what causes period flu? Let’s find out below.
What causes period flu?
Well, no scientific data has clearly pointed at the specific causes of period flu.  However, there are a few prevalent factors present in the majority of women who get this flu. These factors have helped us understand what could be some of the reasons that cause period flu.
Some of these factors include:
- If your body becomes sensitive to other compounds building in your blood when progesterone disintegrates.
- If your body reacts when there are any changes in your neurotransmitters. In this case, serotonin.
- When too many prostaglandins find their way into your bloodstream when the uterine wall breaks down. (Prostaglandins are fatty acids that look like hormones that help in shedding your uterus lining)
- When the rising levels of progesterone affect the functioning of the above neurotransmitter.
The good news is that period flu will stop attacking once your body starts experiencing menopause. In the meantime, this is a condition that you’ll have to deal with.
Also, younger persons are more susceptible to period flu than older people.
Signs and symptoms of period flu
Now, although we refer to the condition as period flu, you should not confuse it with influenza. While influenza by itself is a disease, period flu is a sickness that comes from a “collection of symptoms”.
What’s more, many of the signs and symptoms that show in period flu are also identical to those in PMS. The secretion and alteration of the body hormones during the premenstrual phase causes different effects on people.
And though that is the case, the most prevalent signs and symptoms include:
- fever or chills
- muscle aches
In other cases, the symptoms could also involve:
- joint pain
- difficulty concentrating
- tenderness in the abdomen
One thing that you will note is that period flu’s signs and symptoms come in a cyclic wave. That means that you will experience the same bout of premenstrual illness around the same time each month.
Also, you might have noticed that some symptoms above look like the ones seen in pregnancy. More so, the early stages. These symptoms include bloating, fatigue, nausea, and tenderness in the breast.
These symptoms should not cause you a great alarm if you are still getting your periods.
How long does period flu stick around?
You won’t experience period flu symptoms once you get to menopause.
Nevertheless, period flu symptoms could stick around for a maximum of 2 weeks in your active years. The said symptoms will only kick in once you get through with ovulation.
As your period begins to flow, these signs and symptoms become less severe over the days. The sickening effects will also come to a stop by the time your period stops flowing.
Period Flu Vs. Covid-19
With regards to the times, you must also appreciate the symptoms’ similarity to Covid-19. Both period flu and Covid-19 exhibit the same kind of effects on the victim they affect.
- Gastrointestinal discomforts
- Muscle aches
Now, if you feel that you are a bit more over the weather than usual, then get tested for Covid-19 quickly! As you know, Covid-19 is a more infectious disease, unlike period flu.
You also stand a risk of infecting your spouse or children if you have family around.
Having to deal with period flu can make it difficult for you to function. However, there is still a couple of things you can do to alleviate the effects of the symptoms.
For a mild-case scenario, taking up simple home remedies will help you brave the storm.
The remedies include:
1. Get enough sleep
CDC explains that each adult needs to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. There is no better time to take this up than when the period flu hits.
Resting well enough gives your body a fighting chance on your road to recovery.
2. Get OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers
Taking pain relievers such as Advil helps to ease inflammations. This is a great counter-action to reduce pain severity gotten from head and muscle aches.
Pain medication also helps to manage the discomfort from breast pain and cramps. You should try taking anti-inflammatory medication before you start flowing to weaken the effects of pain.
3. Heating pad
A heating pad could also come in handy to help with reducing muscle aches and cramping pains. As you rest in your bed or couch, hold a heating pad close to your abdomen as long as you can. You can hold it at break intervals of around 15 to 20 minutes each.
4. Make dietary changes
Making changes in your diet can also help you reduce the effects of period flu. For instance, you can opt to stick to consuming smaller meals on regular basis to control your blood sugar.
You can as well just decide to cut back on sugar, fats, and excess salt.
Another great step is to eat whole-grain foods e.g., brown rice, beans, etc. Ensure that you abstain from caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and other such substances. This is because they only add the level of toxicity that your body has to deal with during that time.
5. Stay hydrated
It is no secret that drinking enough water prevents the occurrence of severe headaches. What’s more, in this case, drinking enough water will also help you avoid compulsive eating.
Compulsive eating can lead to you consuming excessive salts found in junk food. This high level of salts can create other problems for you after you finish battling with the period flu.
6. Use antidiarrheal medication
Over-the-counter diarrhea medication can help with reducing the severity of your diarrhea. Some of these medications include Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) and Imodium (loperamide).
Pepto-Bismol also helps curb other stomach-related sicknesses like nausea and stomach upset.
7. Try herbal remedies
OWH (Office on Women’s Health) reported findings from their studies that showed better coping in people who used herbal remedies.
Some of these remedies include:
- Black cohosh
- Chasteberry (unless you are on hormonal medicine)
- Primrose oil
8. Engage in other physical activities
This step takes you far away from medicine ingestion. Its main focus is to improve your overall health through physical exercise.
Some of the activities you may consider are:
- Deep breathing practices
Treatment for severe cases
Period flu and even PMS affect different people differently. Some people will experience a more severe effect of the symptoms than others.
When this happens, you should try:
Taking diuretics to help balance water retention and excess salt expulsion.
Consider antidepressants if the symptoms are also affecting your psychological condition.
Using hormonal medications to help contain the effects coming from hormonal changes in your body.
Stay on prescribed pain relievers to relieve severe aches in the muscles, head, or abdomen.
When to visit your doctor
In most cases, you won’t have to see a doctor if period flu strikes.
Nevertheless, the symptoms could be so severe in special cases in some people. Should this happen to you, make plans immediately to go see your doctor. It could be a real flu or other illnesses masquerading behind period flu symptoms.
Also, it is a good idea to see a doctor when all the above treatment plans fail to improve your situation. If left to grow, the symptoms can literary stop you from executing your day-to-day activities.
How to prevent period flu
There are several things you can start doing to lessen the effects of period flu. Practicing these things will help you better cope the next time your periods start flowing.
- Eating healthy foods. You can reduce the effects if you pick up a healthy diet about 2 weeks before your periods. Amongst other things, it means that you’ll have to stop taking excess sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Take more calcium. Taking calcium supplements can also help you reduce the effects of period flu symptoms. Apart from calcium supplements, you can also increase more foods rich in calcium to your diet.
- Take more Vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps you curb some symptoms like bloating, irritability, and extra moodiness. Other than supplements, you can get Vitamin B-6 from fish, potatoes, poultry, and fruits.
- Exercise more. Excising during your periods might sound like an uphill task. The truth is that exercising helps your body build a lot of strong resistance during your period. It can help you become less affected by things like muscle and backaches. Exercising also improves your energy and keeps your mental health sharp at all times.
Although not officially recognized yet, period flu is a real condition and it affects very many women. It’s only a small fraction of women who do not get to experience this sickness.
And due to its mysteriousness, medical researchers are yet to understand what causes the illness. Hormonal changes remain to be the only logical explanation but there is still a lot left unanswered.
To reduce the severity of period flu symptoms, do more exercise, take pain relievers, stay hydrated, or try herbal remedies.
Do you get affected by period flu before your menses? How does it feel like for you? How do you handle the signs and symptoms? Feel free to share your experience or ask any questions on the Comments Section below!