PMS: More than Mood Swings and Cravings

At least three out of four menstruating women show symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMS signs and symptoms include bloating, food cravings, fatigue, nausea, irritability, depression, mood swings and tender breasts.

While the exact causes of PMS are still up for debate in the medical and research arenas, the physical and emotional symptoms associated with menstruation are thought to be related to but not necessarily caused by hormonal changes.

PMS symptoms tend to begin five-to-10 days before menstruation and end when bleeding starts.

PMS Signs and Symptoms

Researchers have identified more than 150 signs and symptoms for premenstrual syndrome but most women only experience a few of them.

The most common PMS symptoms include:

    • abdominal cramping
    • bloating
    • food cravings (usually sweet)
    • moodiness
    • depression
    • headaches
    • sore breasts
    • fatigue
    • acne

Should I call the Doctor?

PMS symptoms can be a problem. Yet most women do not need to see a doctor as PMS signs and symptoms will usually disappear with the start of the menstrual period.

A small number of women suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS. PMDD symptoms are severe and debilitating. They include physical and psychological symptoms that affect a woman’s day-to-day activities and require medical treatment.

PMDD symptoms include anxiety, depression, anger, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, irritability, paranoia and issues with self-image, coordination difficulties and tension.

Talking to a doctor is a good first step. There are treatments for some PMS and PMDD symptoms.

A PMS diagnosis is usually made through tracking monthly symptoms. Doctors used to treating PMS or PMDD will use your monthly symptoms to find patterns and create a tailor-made treatment program for you.

PMS treatment options

Every woman is different and every woman with PMS symptoms needs her own treatment.

Treatment examples:

    • Good diet – Try to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cutting down on salt intake and adding more fluids to your diet can help prevent bloating. Cutting down on sugar and alcohol can lower food cravings.
    • Calcium – Studies show that taking calcium carbonate supplements can reduce symptoms of moodiness, depression, food craving and pain. The calcium supplement is also good for preventing and treating osteoporosis.
    • Pain relievers — Over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen have shown to reduce cramps, headaches and muscle pain.
    • Reducing stress – PMS sufferers have reported that stress can make symptoms worse. So, find an exercise or relaxation technique that you like to keep your symptoms in check. Endorphins, natural painkillers produced in the brain, are released during physical activity.
    • Antidepressants – Studies show that women suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder respond well to low doses of antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa).
    • Vitamin supplements – Research has shown that certain vitamin supplements – magnesium, iron, and the vitamins B6 and E – can be used to lessen premenstrual symptoms.
    • Special formulas – New over-the-counter non-prescription formulas are now available to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment.

Knowing when your menstrual cycle is meant to take place and keeping track of any PMS symptoms can make a big difference in your life.


Dealing with Dementia and When to Consult a Doctor

If you or a loved one begins to feel that you are starting to experience concerning cognitive symptoms such as short-term memory loss, speech impairment or listlessness, you may be experiencing early signs of dementia. Unfortunately, the condition is typically incurable, but may be some precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent the symptoms from getting worse. But what if you have only recently found out that a loved one is experiencing what would appear to be mid-stage dementia, or perhaps you suspect they are experiencing symptoms indicating they are in the early stages? So the questions come to mind: when do you consult a doctor and when do you accept that you or a loved one has dementia?

Let’s answer these questions.

What is Dementia?

The National Institutes of Health defines dementia as “the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.” They describe that functions that may be impacted include memory, language skills, problem solving, self-management and the ability to focus and pay attention.

The Alzheimer’s Association explains that Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. The condition can cause problems with memory, thinking and behavior, and symptoms typically develop slowly and get worse over time. They can become severe enough to interfere with tasks of daily living.

Caring for people with dementia can be very challenging, and having dementia is quite frustrating.

When to Consult a Doctor

Should you begin to suspect that you or a family member have dementia, it is advisable that you seek professional advice immediately. This is recommended, not to cause alarm, but rather to obtain a diagnosis, monitor the situation and better understand what may be experienced and how to manage the symptoms. This consultation can also offer relief because experienced healthcare professionals understand the symptoms and can advise on how to improve memory; they may even suggest a few memory exercises.

Seeking professional support will also help family understand how to deal with any issues that may arise in the future, bringing greater understanding into the home.

Questions to Ask a Doctor

Prepare yourself before the doctor’s appointment, as they will be the ones to answer your questions and determine whether any actions need to be taken. Below are some of the most typical questions asked by those who suspect they may have dementia.

Do I Have Dementia? If So, at What Stage is My Dementia?

Dementia can progress even though you may not realize it. It is advisable that you ask your doctor to help you determine how far along you are or if you have misdiagnosed the problem.

How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

By finding out the path of dementia, you’ll get a better understanding of what you are experiencing and what to expect in the near future.

Which Medications Might Help?

As your doctor if there are any medications you can take to improve your state of mind and/or prolong deterioration.

Is It Safe to Live at Home?

As dementia slowly progresses, some people tend to feel like a burden on their families. It is best you seek your doctor’s advice for peace of mind and an honest opinion.

People suffer symptoms of dementia on different scales; so always seek the advice of a professional to get an accurate diagnosis and quality treatment.

10 Early Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia, one of whose symptoms is memory loss, is quite a complex topic. In simple terms, dementia can be described as an ailment with a collection of symptoms that affect the mental well-being of people and quality of life. To shed some more light on the topic, here is what you need to know about dementia and how to identify the symptoms in order to prepare for the journey ahead.

1. Short Term Memory Loss
Simple tasks may become increasingly difficult to complete as short term memory loss kicks in. When people fall victim to dementia, the first symptom is short term memory loss. People may continue to remember something from years ago, but the events of the morning may be lost.

2. Speech Problems
Another symptom is being at a loss for words. People may experience great difficulty trying to find the right words, knowing what they want to say but the specific words may escape them.

3. Mood Swings
Dementia can cause an abrupt change in moods that becomes increasingly irregular the further the stages of dementia progress. At one moment, the person experiencing dementia may feel happy and the very next, may become noticeably irritable.

4. Apathy
Apathy, or listlessness, commonly occurs in early dementia and results in a loss of interest in hobbies or activities. As such, the person may not want to go out anymore or do anything fun. He or she may also lose interest in spending time with friends and family, and may seem emotionally flat.

5. Confusion
Someone in the early stages of dementia may often become confused. When memory, thinking, or judgment lapses, confusion may arise as the person may no longer be able to remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people normally.
Confusion can occur for a number of reasons and apply to different situations. For example, people with dementia may misplace important items, forget what comes next in the day, or have difficulty remembering someone they have met before.

6. Day-to-Day Struggles
Day-to-day tasks may become increasingly difficult to do. Activities as simple as tying shoelaces may become harder to complete independently as the stages of dementia progress.

7. Keeping Ahead
Conversations may become hard to follow for those suffering from the symptoms of dementia. Mental activities as simple as recognizing a single word or phrase will eventually become infuriatingly difficult and victims may struggle to keep up with casual conversations.

8. Direction Impairment
Unfortunately, those who suffer from dementia may also lose all sense of direction. Driving may become a thing of the past as finding one’s way home becomes quite a task.

9. Repetition
Due to short-term memory loss symptoms, dementia victims will often repeat what they have just said without remember that they just said it. This repetitiveness of thoughts or words is an early symptom of dementia, suggesting that the person should be monitored for additional symptoms.

10. Adaption Issues
Unfortunately, those with dementia will struggle to adapt to any sort of change in their environment as they feel less familiar with things they once knew. Changing things in a person’s surroundings, even as small as a table or a chair may unsettle a person suffering from dementia.
These ten symptoms may seem scary, but for cases in which dementia can be treated, mental clarity can be prolonged or restored.

What to Expect from Your Menstrual Cycle

Menstrual cycles tell women a lot about their bodies, so observing closely can give them insight on what their bodies may be communicating. The main function of a woman’s menstrual cycle is to prepare her body for pregnancy. When a woman reaches menopause, she no longer gets her period or produces eggs and hormones to become pregnant.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormone levels rise and fall according to each phase of the cycle. These hormone fluctuations can be accompanied by changes in mood and energy levels (but do not necessarily cause them).

Your Menstrual Cycle Explained

Phase 1: Menstruation

The first day of a woman’s cycle starts when she gets her period. During this time, many women experience cramps, bloating and some pain. In some instances, women get severe headaches or fatigue. On this first day of the cycle, the uterus lining, which had built up to prepare for hosting a fertilized egg, begins to break down and is shed. This is the cause for the discomfort. Normal periods last between three and seven days.

Phase 2: Egg Formation

Phase 2 of the cycle occurs when the woman’s period ends. Hormones encourage the female ovaries to begin the process of creating eggs. During this process, a woman’s uterus begins to thicken to get ready to receive and nurture a fertilized egg.

During this stage, women may feel slightly happier than other times of the month.

Phase 3: Ovulation

When an egg is fully grown, ovulation occurs; the egg is released into one of woman’s two fallopian tubes and it then travels to the uterus. (Even though multiple eggs may grow in the ovaries, typically, only one is released per month.) A woman is most fertile during the ovulation time window of 12-24 hours, while the egg is travelling from the fallopian tube to the uterus. Should a sperm come into contact with the egg within this ovulation window, the sperm can fertilize the egg and the woman may become pregnant. The ovulation process may cause a spike in a woman’s sex drive and her happier mood may continue.

Phase 4: The Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is considered the end of a woman’s cycle. The egg has travelled to the womb and the female body then produces the progesterone hormone, which further aids in building up the uterus lining to provide necessary support for a fertilized egg. However, if the egg fails to fertilize, the uterus doesn’t need the extra lining in the uterus, and the lining will prepare to break down (in preparation for returning to the first phase of the menstrual cycle). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is most likely to occur during this phase, a time in which many women tend to feel more emotional, irritable, vulnerable and sensitive. Perhaps this is why many women crave chocolate or why they feel the Kleenex needs to be closer than usual this month!

By understanding these natural body phases, you may have better insights into your feelings. You may be able to tune your lifestyle to support your health and your mood during these stages, by getting the right diet, exercise, rest and encouragement from friends, and managing stress.


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.




PMS Symptoms Based on Your Age

PMS Symptoms Based on Your Age

When aunt flow comes to visit, most of us are graced with the signs beforehand. More often than not, the signs aren’t subtle and we never look forward to them. These unwelcome signals alert us to that time of month, which come in depression, anxiety and trouble concentrating, or best of all, they tend to be displayed in an unflattering presentation of bloated tummies or tired bags under our eyes – proving the fatigued days we have had to face.

However, not all of us have to face these symptoms and some of us only deal with a few. So the question is, what are the PMS symptoms based on your age and do they ever really end prior to menopause?

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is essentially the symptoms that occur in the female body before menstruation begins. Unfortunately the symptoms aren’t pretty; PMS causes irritability, tiredness, and headaches, lack of confidence, skin breakouts and oh so many more symptoms. Some discomfort can be remedied with pain relievers, but many symptoms are not so easily treated, and unfortunately women can expect to see them again in the months to follow.

PMS Symptoms in Your Teens

Experiencing your first menstrual cycle may possibly be the most alarming phase of adulthood. The symptoms in teens tend to be more severe as their adolescent bodies aren’t used to the hormone adjustment. Mood swings and irritability levels are higher than those of women who are past puberty. Some symptoms can be treated with sleep and rest, but with school, exams and other day to day stress, experiencing relief without the aid of medication is a rarity.

PMS Symptoms in Adulthood

During the ages of 20 to 30, women tend to experience a rollercoaster of premenstrual pains, moods and other factors affecting their day-to-day life. This is commonly influenced by lifestyle related to sleeping, eating, stress and birth control use. Women who lead more active lifestyles and women who eat healthier tend to experience less unwanted effects from their menstrual cycle as opposed to those who drink, smoke or live stressful lives.

PMS Symptoms in Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time in a women’s life about 5 to 10 years before menopause begins. Many women who are in their 40s have claimed that whatever symptoms they experienced in their younger years are heightened in their 40s. One difference is that during a woman’s forties, her period may become more irregular and symptoms are probably a welcome warning sign as to what is about to approach in the week ahead.

Although a woman’s body changes through the course of her life, one thing remains constant – her cycle, which eventually evolves into menopause. In this transition, no two women are the same; some see menopause as a beautiful stage of life and others do not welcome it!

Interesting Causes of Short-Term Memory Loss

Many assume that memory loss is only related to aging, however this assumption has been proven false through a series of documented research. One prime example is something commonly known as pregnancy brain. Young women who have become pregnant have potentially experienced short-term memory loss, which may or may not ever improve after giving birth. This shows that memory loss can occur at various stages of life.

Some of the more interesting causes of memory loss are often misdiagnosed because many are unfamiliar with the causes. Here are some thought-provoking facts as to what may have an impact on short-term memory loss within the human race.

Sleep Apnea
A generous majority of people who have experienced sleep apnea have been diagnosed with short-term memory loss as a result. This sleep disorder occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep on a regular basis. People who experience sleep apnea will often wake up because their breathing has stopped and then fall back into a slumber state only to be woken again and so forth. The effects include lack of oxygen to the brain, short-term memory loss, fatigue, sleep terrors and insomnia. This sleeping disorder can often be treated.

It’s no surprise some medications cause short-term memory loss; what is interesting, however, is that some commonly prescribed medications tend to cause this very worrisome side effect. Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, selective painkillers, diabetic medication and antihistamines are among the culprits that have been known to affect memory.

Depression, Anxiety and Stress
Three common emotional factors that have been documented as causes of impaired memory such as misplacing items or forgetting why you have entered a room have been linked to depression, anxiety, stress and in some instances all of the above mentioned. Left untreated, these conditions and symptoms could worsen and cause severe health problems.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse
The abuse of narcotics or liquor has been commonly known to cause many side effects, one of which being short-term memory loss. Heavy drinkers and users have been scientifically proven to have more memory lapses than adults who drink less frequently.

Nutritional Deficiency
Nutrition plays an enormous role in the health of one’s memory. The saying, “Healthy mind, healthy body” isn’t without substance. Poor eating habits, lack of nutrients and water, insufficient vitamin B12 and many other dietary issues can affect brain performance, including memory loss. Reevaluating and correcting the state of one’s health can remedy some effects of nutritional deficiency and help contribute to a longer, healthier living experience.

Although the above causes of short-term memory loss may be fairly new to people who are only just starting to experience some symptoms, early and prolonged care for one’s body may even result in a healthier lifestyle and memory, which could help you remember where you put your car keys!

What is brain fog?

Are you having difficulty concentrating? When at work or in a social situation, are you struggling to recall details? Are you finding it exhausting to gather your thoughts? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you may be experiencing brain…read more

Should I worry about my memory lapses? 1

How to tell if your memory lapses are normal
We all know the feeling. We’re at a dinner party and we need to introduce our partner to an old friend, and we completely blank out on the name of our friend (or partner…). Or we’re speaking about this amazing restaurant we recently went to and no matter how hard we try, we just cannot remember the name. We forget where we put our keys, parked our car, or what we came into the room to get. We forget appointments. And the list goes on.

I’m approaching 40 and this has been happening to me for years, so what’s going to happen to my memory as I get older? Is this amount of forgetfulness normal?
Although memory lapses can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, most research on the subject shows that they are actually normal, especially as we age. In fact, according to Susan Lehmann of the Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, occasional memory lapses in your 40s and 50s are rarely a sign of a serious problem. “It’s typically more about distraction and how much information the human brain can handle at one time,” she says. “All the complexities of life make it easy, in any one day, to forget something.”

So if you’re doing lots of things at once (which is almost always true for most of us), like trying to read a book with the TV on and a child asking you questions, chances are you won’t be forming memories properly and it will be hard for you to recall details about the book later on.

Lehmann goes on to explain: “Though they make people anxious, the normal memory changes that happen as you age through midlife and beyond – which tend to be episodic, occasional and stable – are not a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”

In short, healthy people can experience memory lapses at any age, but as long as they are not frequent, persistent or interfering with your ability to function and work, they do no usually indicate a more serious memory-impairing illness.

plySide West, Las Vegas, on October 6-7, 2016.