Approximately 40% of menstruating women suffer from premenstrual tension and it occurs mostly in women over 30 years of age. In some women, the onset of symptoms seems to coincide with ovulation and may then persist until menstruation commences. In some rare cases, relief from the premenstrual syndrome may be obtained only with the cessation of the menstrual flow.
Tension headaches are common during this period, but in some cases, migraines attacks occur with severe pain and vomiting. The patient suffers from breast tenderness, which is sometimes so severe that it is almost unbearable. There may also be abdominal bloating, accompanied by edema of the ankles and hands. Some women resort to dieting to get rid of the abdominal bloating but this only leads to fatigue and depression. Others may experience a craving for sweet foods.
Some of the less common symptoms are the exacerbation of epilepsy dizziness, backache, hoarse voice, greasy hair, acne and allergic reactions.
Patients suffering from premenstrual tension may show a gain of weight of one kg or more in the later part of the menstrual cycle due to salt and water retention. The retention of fluid is partly due to ovarian steroids, but there is also an increased output of an anti-diuretic hormone from the posterior pituitary gland.
A team of researchers at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and John Hopkins University School of Medicine, London, through carefully controlled studies concluded that dietary deficiencies particularly that of vitamin E and vitamin B6 or pyridoxine are the most common causes of PMS.