Should I Be Concerned?

It's not easy to watch your child struggle with menstrual cramps or PMS. You wish you could take the pain away and make her feel better, but you can't. What you can do:

*Make sure she eats a balanced diet including fresh vegetables and fruit

*Cut down on the amount of sodium in her food—consuming lots of salt can cause water retention and bloating—and caffeine, which may make her feel jumpy or anxious.

*Add calcium sources to her diet which can alleviate PMS symptoms

*Offer OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headaches, cramps, or back pain

*Encourage exercise, a bike ride or a power walk, to relieve her achiness and stress

*Suggest she take a long warm bath or prepare a hot water bottle for her abdomen to soothe her cramps and help her to relax

Underlying Issues?

If your daughter's symptoms seem to be more severe than you would expect, speak to her physician and ask him if there could be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes, hormone-based birth control pills can be prescribed and these will help alleviate the symptoms that come with painful periods.

Keeping the lines of communication open at this time will go a long way toward making her feel better. You can listen and offer reassurance that her symptoms are normal and will most likely improve with time. You can take a deep breath and swallow down your natural reactions to her cranky attitude. Be understanding.

Even the worst menstrual issues are not liable to become a reason for a trip to the emergency room. But some symptoms do suggest you should take your daughter for a visit to the doctor. Cycle changes would be a good example of a reason to seek medical advice. Make an appointment if your daughter:

Seek Advice

*Hasn't had her first period by the time she turns 15 or if, after 3 years of menstruation, she's still irregular. It's probable she has a hormonal imbalance requiring treatment or perhaps other medical issues that need to be addressed.

*Stops having her period or after being regular, her cycles become erratic. A cycle that is fewer than 21 days or longer than 45 days or a gap of 3 months between menstrual periods needs investigation.

* Has prolonged or heavy periods. This is even more important if she has a short cycle so that her period arrives with frequency. This situation may lead to iron-deficiency anemia because of excessive blood loss. Heavy bleeding may be a sign of an underlying condition such as a uterine growth, a thyroid problem, an infection, or a clotting problem.

Severe Pain

*Has severe pain with her periods. Two days of cramping is par for the course, but if your daughter is sidelined from daily activities because of cramping, it's time to involve her physician. She may be suffering from a condition such as endometriosis which requires treatment.

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