So, if you can’t already tell by the title- this was an experiment gone wrong. Using Claritin to help control my PMDD symptoms (mental and physical) is something I have been doing for a while now. I decided to stop for a month to see what would happen and well…
It was not a good idea.
In this post, I will be discussing why I started using Claritin and all that happened when I stopped.
Why an antihistamine for PMDD
I did a post about this a while back but I wanted to talk about it again for anyone that doesn’t feel like looking at it. This all involves a theory that suggests PMS and PMDD is caused by a histamine response in some people.
Histamine is a substance in our bodies that is responsible for allergic reactions. It gets released by something called, mast cells. This release is done when there is an exposure to what the body perceives as an allergen.
The type of thing that a person might have an allergic response to (can be pretty much anything) as well as the severity of that response- will vary. This is due to everyone being different and the fact that mast cells are found all over our body. Typical allergic response symptoms include the following:
- Itchy skin
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest tightness
- Anaphylaxis- This is a severe allergic response that requires medical help.
- Rapid heart rate
- Brain fog
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Mental health issues- Anxiety, depression, rumination, OCD behaviors etc.
If you look at the above list, you will see that many of the symptoms are ones that some experience during the menstrual cycles due to hormone shifts. This is where the histamine theory comes from.
Some of us may be having an allergic reaction to our hormones.
When people have frequent allergic reactions to certain things or they are at risk for having them, an antihistamine is usually their go-to treatment. Because of this, an antihistamine for people who suffer with bad hormonal symptoms could possibly be of help.
When looking at the PMDD subreddit, one can see that it definitely has helped some (no advising-sounding posts are allowed though). People take them every single day or when they usually start getting their symptoms.
The following are popular antihistamines that people who treat their hormonal symptoms use:
- Hydroxyzine (prescription needed).
What an antihistamine did for me
I actually found out about taking Pepcid and Claritin everyday to help with long-COVID symptoms. The theory behind that is that the symptoms may be due to mast cell issues (I did a post on that, too!). It was only a bit later that I read where it may help with my PMDD symptoms.
To give you a little run-down of my PMDD, I will provide you with the following list of what I go through at varying days during each menstrual cycle:
- Crying over everything (like Spiderman 3 with Tobey Maguire!)
- Brain fog
- Food cravings
- Easily irritated
- Issues with sound (posted about it here)
- Extreme rumination
- Excessive laughter
- Tender neck
- Back aches
- Cramps (before I bleed)
- Headaches and migraines( only sometimes)
- Extreme itchiness
- Random rashes
- Increased hunger
- Moderate to severe GI issues
- Tender breasts
- Heart palpitations
- Air hunger (this occurred even before COVID)
- Night sweats (three days before I bleed)
- Really oily skin
- Increased heart rate
- Post nasal drip
- Heavy legs
Whew! That is a lot, isn’t it? I can’t believe it myself after I type it out. This is my reality though.
When I started taking Claritin (5 mg in the morning and night), all of my PMDD symptoms reduced in severity to a substantial degree and a few even went away completely (itchiness, rashes, post-nasal drip, brain fog and air hunger).
Before I knew about how it could possibly treat one’s PMS/PMDD symptoms, I was wondering why my cycle was going so well. Finding out that Claritin could have been playing a role in it, was crazy. It did make sense though. I also began to take Pepcid along with it which is another antihistamine.
Needless to say, I had a blissful few months when it comes to PMDD.
Why I quit and how things went
For some reason, I became a little skeptical of the Claritin being the cause of my menstrual cycles being easier. I was thinking that maybe it was all a fluke or that my body decided to finally not go crazy when my hormones shifted.
This line of thinking led me to stop taking Claritin for a menstrual cycle just to see how I would feel without it. The following is my day-by-day symptoms of my Claritin-free cycle:
Day 1: Cramps, excess worry, heavy legs and bloody gums.
Day 2: Bloody gums, teary and a very upset stomach.
Day 3: Bloody gums, headache/pressure and happy feelings.
Day 4: Headache/pressure, increased sex drive and groggy feeling in head.
Day 5: Very upset stomach, burping and frantic/speedy behavior.
Day 6: Terrible stomach cramps and irritability.
Day 7: Extremely itchy, terrible stomach cramps, bloating and irritability.
Day 8: Upset stomach and head pressure.
Day 9: Throat swelling, back aches, upset stomach and no motivation.
Day 10: Very upset stomach and germaphobia issues.
Day 11: Migraine, upset stomach, dizzy, itchy feet, acne breakout and no motivation.
Day 12: Head pressure and acne breakout.
Day 13: Very upset stomach, gassiness, bloating, dizzy/lightheaded, hip aches, shakiness, acne breakout, frantic and nesting behaviors.
Day 14: Acne breakout and upset stomach.
Day 15: Air hunger, increased hunger, headache and irritability.
Day 16: Headache, air hunger, post-nasal drip and mood switches (from happy to sad).
Day 17: Insomnia, throat swelling, itchy ear and anxiety.
Day 18: Itchy ear, ovulation cramps and upset stomach.
Day 19: Gassiness and sadness.
Day 20: Hungry, gassiness, throat swelling, clumsiness and feeling lazy.
Day 21: Really hungry, tender breasts, clumsiness, gritty eyes, itchy ear, acne breakout and feeling lazy.
Day 22: Terrible upset stomach, gassiness, cramps, bloating, gritty eyes, insomnia, tingly skin, chilliness and tender breasts.
Day 23: Excess armpit sweating, tender breasts, tight back, fatigue, gassiness, really hungry, really irritated and extreme worry about money.
Day 24: Same as day 23 but with extreme nesting thrown in there.
Day 25: Tender gums and all emotions felt.
Day 26: Very hungry, itchy and irritable.
Day 27: Acne breakout, arm rash and feelings of hopelessness.
Day 28: Same as day 27 but with swelling in my throat and brain fog.
Day 29: Upset stomach, itchiness, extreme worry and anger.
So as you can see, this menstrual cycle did not go well at all. Lots of discomfort was felt every day-mentally and physically.
It was a bad experiment!
My plan going forward
I believe that for me, Claritin is very helpful for my PMDD symptoms. It doesn’t seem like it was all just a coincidence that I had a few good months on it and then it all went bad after I stopped taking it.
My plan is to take Claritin for the foreseeable future. If I feel like my body is too used to it, I will switch to another allergy medication (either Allegra or Zyrtec). I will also continue to take Pepcid twice a day as I think those two together work really well (Pepcid alone, doesn’t).
I will continue to use the generic form of Claritin and Pepcid as they are just as effective as the brand name forms.
This was a bad experience for me and it won’t happen again if I can help it. The use of antihistamines for PMDD symptoms may not work for everyone but they definitely have for me. This post will hopefully provide another piece of anecdotal evidence for this treatment’s use if a person is searching for it.
Has anyone reading this who has PMS or PMDD, tried an antihistamine for their symptoms? If so, how did it work for you?
If you are interested in tracking your symptoms during your menstrual cycles or just in general, pick up my Daily Journal & Planner. I love it and can’t be without it!
Thanks for reading!
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Medical disclaimer: I am not a medical profession so what I say should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice. I am just relaying the information I have learned and talking about my experiences. If you want to make a change to your health, you should consult a doctor first. Your health is your own and I am not liable for any consequences that occur because of your choices.
#claritin #antihistamines #allergies #hormones #larabriden #menstrualcycle #pmddtreatment #pms #mastcellactivationsyndrome #longcovid