Women pride themselves on the fact that they are muti-taskers. However, very often the most important aspect of their lives is forgotten in the mayhem of multitasking – good health.
A lot of women’s health issues arise because of negligence and putting their health very low on the priority list. Here’s a look at some of the major health issues that affect women in India.
Studies have shown that heart diseases affect 6 times as many women as breast cancer. Coronary Artery Disease occurs mostly in menopausal women, but in the presence of diabetes, women get affected at a younger age.
Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking, and a lack of physical activity are all factors that increase the risk of heart disease. Family history too plays its part.
Dietary changes, quitting smoking, lipid lowering medication, and regular exercise will help in lowering the chance of heart diseases. It is also important to go for regular health checkups; after all prevention is better than cure.
While family history does have a role, it is important to remember that less than 10% of the cases of breast cancer are due to this. Several other factors are known to increase the risk of breast cancer – obesity, early menstruation (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55), excess alcohol and smoking.
It is important to do a self examination of breasts and consult a doctor if any abnormality is observed. Women should also get regular mammograms done after age 40.
Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)
This is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting women of child-bearing age. It is known to affect 5-10% of the women in this age group. Women with this problem have cysts in their ovaries and this in turn affects their ability to conceive.
Symptoms include irregular periods, infertility, high levels of insulin, excessive body hair, acne, and weight gain. Women should get regular medical checkups done and have this condition treated.
A few million women throughout the world die every year of strokes. This silent killer has many causes including hypertension, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle with no exercise, excessive junk food, smoking and alcohol.
Women should follow a healthy lifestyle, and manage chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure carefully with the correct treatments to reduce risk of stroke.
Known to be one of the most common issues that affect women, especially during middle age and after, Osteoporosis is largely preventable.
Problems such as joint pain, back aches, and frailty are mainly due to behavioral traits that women pick up during adolescent and youth.
Diets rich in calcium and physical activity like weight training will help women avoid Osteoporosis to a large extent.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly. This results in high levels of glucose build-up in the blood.
The consequences include heart disease, kidney problems, and even possible blindness. Obesity is one of the major risk factors associated with diabetes.
Maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity reduce the chances of type-2 diabetes.
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
Respiratory illnesses such as Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and several other problems affecting the lungs fall under this category. These mainly result from smoking and can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
It has been observed that depression affects more women than men. Women need to have a connection with loved ones and when they do not, depression is very likely to occur.
Sometimes hormonal changes can also result in depression, especially after pregnancy or during menopause. Other factors include substance abuse, trauma, family history of depression and chronic illnesses.
Studies have shown that women are more at risk than men to be affected by Alzheimer’s which results in memory loss issues.
Some of the ways of preventing this condition are managing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and regular physical and mental activity to remain fit.
While it is not proven, when a woman reaches middle age, the reduction in estrogen is believed to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Hair Loss and Premature Greying
This is a problem that affects several women, especially in urban India. While genetic factors do contribute to hair loss and early graying, some very important factors are deficiency of Vitamin B12 and Iron, excessive consumption of junk food and coffee/tea, lack of sleep, an unclean scalp, smoking and stress.
Maintaining a diet rich in vitamin B12 and iron, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent this condition.
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