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Premenstrual Syndrome: Signs and Symptoms


Relieve Your PMS Symptoms

Things you can do to avoid or relieve PMS symptoms:

Eat right. It may take a couple of months for some effects to kick in, but you'll be surprised at the difference the following steps may make:

  • Eat more frequently, but make your portions smaller.
  • Consume 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium, whether through diet or a supplement. (Talk to a health care professional or your parents to make sure you don't take too much.)
  • Consume 200 milligrams per day of magnesium, whether through diet or a supplement. (Talk to a health care professional or your parents to make sure you don't take too much.)
  • Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Cut back on salt, salty foods and refined sugar, especially during the seven to 10 days before your period begins.
  • Cut out the caffeine, which can worsen irritability and breast tenderness.
  • Drink low-fat milk, eat low-fat yogurt, cheese and other calcium rich foods.

Exercise. You need to get aerobic exercise 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week in order to boost your health and well-being. (A brisk walk, a short run, a bike ride are examples of aerobic exercises.) Exercise can reduce feelings of fatigue, depression and moodiness.

Lower your stress levels. First, be sure to get adequate sleep. Most teens do not get the nine hours or more of sleep they need to feel their best. You'll be surprised how many symptoms can be lessened when you get enough sleep.

Second, no matter how busy you are with school, after-school activities or a job, be sure to take time to do something fun for yourself — see a movie, hang out with friends, read a book for fun.

A third strategy that many teens find helpful is muscle relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to reduce anxiety or improve sleep. Try breathing deeply, using your lower abdomen not your chest. Hold a deep lungful of air for five seconds, and then release it slowly. Repeat several times.

Record your symptoms. Keep a notebook of your symptoms — what they are, when they occur and for how long, when they go away and any factors you think make them worse or better. What you learn from your record keeping, such as a pattern to your symptoms and things that relieve them, may help you manage your symptoms, or will give your health care professional some clues about effective treatments.

Talk to your health care professional. If do-it-yourself strategies aren't working, describe your symptoms to your health care professional or a school nurse or pharmacist. If symptoms are severe or are interfering with your ability to do schoolwork or the activities you want to do, you need to take action. There are treatments that can make a dramatic difference in PMS symptoms: antidepressants, birth control pills or injections (these products minimize hormone fluctuations); and pain medications such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) or naproxen sodium (e.g., Aleve), which can reduce cramping and breast pain.

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