Do you get flu symptoms around the time of your period that make it hard to keep crushing your fit goals? You're not alone. The nausea, aches, fatigues and hot flashes that are part and parcel of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can also be symptoms of what is commonly called period flu.
Unlike an actual flu, your period flu is not a medical condition. For this reason, a period flu cannot be diagnosed. However, it is still very real and it still sucks really bad.
Thankfully, there are easy ways to help alleviate these pesky symptoms, and they all boil down to making a few simple lifestyle tweaks.
But first, let's learn more about the period flu...
Period Flu Symptoms
PMS typically begins 14 days before the start of menstruation and can last until your period starts. It is during this time women are likely to notice period flu symptoms, including:
- raised body temperature
Unlike a real flu, however, your period flu is not contagious and is cyclical in its occurrence.
How Do You Know It's Not the Real Flu?
Refer to that last point and ask yourself if these symptoms return after ovulation and last until (roughly) the beginning of your period. If this is the case, you probably have a period flu.
If, on the other hand, your symptoms are not cyclical and your temperature is more than 100.4 degrees for several hours or days, then chances are you have an actual viral flu.
What Causes Period Flu?
The exact cause of period flu is thought to be a heightened sensitivity to hormonal changes that happen naturally during our cycles and/or a heightened inflammatory response during our cycles.
What's more, it's been shown that prostaglandins, which are inflammatory hormones released when the endometrial cells of the uterus shed, can increase flu-like symptoms. These hormones can enter the bloodstream, resulting in the muscle aches, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
The good news is there is no cause to be concerned about the period flu--though, if it's really interfering with your life, you should go see your doctor. A talk with your doc can also help you ensure that these symptoms aren't the result of auto-immune disorders or other conditions.
Again, for most women, period flu symptoms are really just that: symptoms of a non-viral cyclical hormonal fluctuation.
How to Treat the Period Flu
First, let's just reiterate that the period flu is not a recognized medical condition and therefore, there is no cure. However, there are ways in which you can manage and even alleviate your symptoms through diet and educated lifestyle choices.
Drink plenty of water. Whether it's thinking more clearly, crushing your weight loss goals or getting relief from period flu symptoms, getting enough water really can make things better.
Your recommended daily water intake is your weight in pounds, divided by two. The result is the amount of water you should drink in ounces. For instance, a 160 lb person should drink 80 ounces of water per day. (160/2=80)
Rest! If your body is inflamed and your muscles ache, it's not the time to aggravate things further. Relax and nurture your yin—your restful side. Of course, this doesn't mean you have to (or should) lay off your workouts for days; only that you should shift gears.
Go on walks. Do yoga. Try our Stretch and Mobility series on BodyRockPlus with Mike Levine. If you feel really lousy, of course, you should rest entirely, but if not, a little light activity can boost your serotonin levels and help combat the malaise.
BodyRock Trainer Mike Levine.
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Load up on antioxidants. Antioxidants help you combat inflammation. Antioxidants can be found in abundance in plant-based foods, making your period flu a perfect reason to lean into more green eating. This doesn't mean you have to give up eating meat or animal by-products all together, but you may want to cut down in general—especially during your period flu.
Get a great deal on our Plant-Based Vegan Guide now and kick-start your greener diet. This comprehensive guide is packed with 40+ delicious recipes (including desserts) plus all the nutrition education you need to make the switch to a diet infused with more health-promoting plants.
Reduce or eliminate foods that cause inflammation. We're talking alcohol, sugar, processed foods and artificial sweeteners. We get it: these can be precisely the sort of comfort foods you crave during your period flu, but try your best to avoid them.
Again, this is where our Plant-Based Vegan Guide can come in handy since it offers mouth-watering but decidedly healthier alternatives to the sweets and treats you crave pre-period.
Check out Sean's Vegan Bounty Bars—just one of the many desserts featured in this guide.
Supplement. There are a handful of supplements that can support your body's natural anti-inflammatory response: omega-3s, NAC, resveratrol and turmeric are among the best, safest choices. (Though always check with your doctor before you supplement with anything.)
For many women, period flus are a fact of life, but this doesn't mean you have to suffer. Use this knowledge along with the strategies mentioned above to combat the period flu by supporting your body, naturally.
Period Flu Playlist
Sign up for a 30-day no risk, free trial of BodyRockPlus and get access to our Period Flu Playlist so you can replenish your aching body with thoughtful, relaxing and rejuvenating movement.CLICK TO VIEW!