Top 7 Health Concerns for Women
Posted 12/21/2016 by UHBlog
If you’re juggling any combination of childrearing, a job, volunteering in the community and/or caring for aging parents, you may find something has to give. Make sure it isn’t your health, says family medicine specialist Palak Shroff, MD.
“Women tend to get good medical care during pregnancy, but then as they get more involved with taking care of their children and families, they miss out on taking care of their own health,” Dr. Shroff says. “Everyone should be concerned about their own health at any given time and get annual physicals. When women say, ‘I haven’t see a physician for five or 10 years,’ that’s concerning.”
According to Dr. Shroff, the top seven health concerns among women are:
- Depression. Mental stability is critical for a woman’s total well-being because it affects her physical health and her quality of life. Depression is treatable, but it can fly under the radar if women don’t seek help or if symptoms mimic other issues. Dr. Shroff suggests calling your doctor immediately if you lose interest in daily activities, experience changes in appetite, can’t concentrate, feel like you have low energy or are always tired.
- Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Obesity often plays a role in the development of these conditions, but women with a healthy body mass index can develop them as well. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor for regular screenings, she says. Treating high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome can help minimize the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Dr. Shroff recommends telling your doctor if you’re having trouble losing weight or are excessively thirsty because these are potential signs of diabetes, which can cause health problems affecting your kidneys, nerves, feet and eyes, as well as other risks – including heart disease. If you’re found to have diabetes, your doctor can prescribe medication and help you devise a nutrition and exercise regime.
- Substance abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption and dependence on painkillers are certainly concerns, but smoking is the most prevalent addictive habit Dr. Shroff sees in her practice.
“Smoking is related to not only lung, throat and bladder cancer, but also heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease,” she says.
Cigarette smoke tends to stay in a person’s mouth and on her clothes, so she may unwittingly expose others to secondhand smoke through close contact, Dr. Shroff adds.
- Menstrual irregularities. Don’t ignore changes in your period, especially heavy bleeding. The increased flow could be brought on by fluctuating hormone levels in perimenopausal women, but it could also signal fibroids or ovarian abnormalities in menstruating women of any age.
- Cancer. Be vigilant about scheduling regular screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancer, recommends Dr. Shroff. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about your risk for lung cancer. Advances in cancer therapies mean survival rates are rising, especially when tumors are discovered and treated early.
- Osteoporosis. Women over age 65 need regular screenings for osteoporosis, a condition that causes brittle bones. Younger women who are at a higher risk for developing the condition, such as those who have had multiple bone fractures, should also be screened.
- Anemia or vitamin D deficiency. According to Dr. Shroff, these treatable conditions are common in women. See your doctor if your skin, the area under your eyes or your nail beds are pale since these are possible signs of anemia, which can be treated with iron and/or vitamin B-12. Women who complain of muscle weakness may be deficient in vitamin D, which is absorbed into the skin through exposure to sunlight. This can be treated with an oral vitamin D supplement and calcium.
Palak Shroff, MD is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Painesville Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Shroff or any other doctor online.