10 Health Concerns for Women

Friday, 4 April 2014 - 8:19pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
A few solutions for health conditions that ought to be on every woman's radar on World Health Day 2014
  • Sudhir Shetty

Anaemia
Women Afflicted: 1 in 2
Indications: Tiredness, running out of breath easily, dizziness, headaches, cold hands and feet, cramping legs, pale skin...
Caused by: Iron deficiency attributed to poor diet, immense blood loss, vitamin deficiency, genetics...
Could lead to: Pregnancy complications, chronic fatigue, poor immunity, heart trouble...
You can: Consume sufficient iron and vitamin B12, vitamin C and folic acid; dark green vegetables, chickpeas, sardines, red wine, dark chocolate...

Obesity
Women afflicted: 1 in 2
Indications: Weight circumference greater than 80 cm in women (90 cm in men), BMI higher than 25
Caused by: Poor lifestyle choices; the Indian social conditioning that chubbier children are healthier children; the false notion that putting on weight is a symptom of an ageing body and a wealthy wallet; the fallacy that all women gain weight post pregnancy and keep it. Do note: Genetics is responsible for no more than 2-3 per cent of obesity.
Could lead to: PCOS, sub-clinical hypothyroidism, diabetes, infertility, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, heart disease...
You can: Watch what you eat, eat smaller portions, carry healthy snacks, think up creative ways to get your daily dose of exercise (take the stairs instead of the elevator, belly dance...)

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Women Afflicted: 1 in 3
Indications: Sudden weight gain; irregular periods; acne; excessive hair growth on face, abdomen, chest and back; darkening of skin on the neck and armpit, thinning hair, mood swings...
Caused by: Sedentary lifestyle/genetics...
Could lead to: Obesity, endometriosis, high blood pressure, infertility...
You can: Shedding a few kilos, if you are on
the heavier side, should alleviate symptoms; medical intervention involves controlling PCOS with prescribed oral contraceptives and hormonal treatments

Osteoporosis
Women afflicted: 1 in 3
Indications:May go undetected until you break a bone or two
Caused by: Age-related estrogen plunge, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, lack of weight-bearing exercise, insufficient
sunlight exposure...
Could lead to: Wrist, hip, humerus, forearm and spine fractures
You can: Get good doses of calcium, vitamin D and sunlight, not to mention weight-bearing exercise. The best time to build bone density is now. Post menopause, no matter what you do, you're going to lose bone faster than you can build it, making hormone treatments and medication your last resort

Heart-disease
Women afflicted: 1 in 3
Indications: Chest, arm, back, neck or jaw pain; shortness of breath; anxiety, palpitations, cold sweats, nausea, light-headedness, fatigue, swelling in feet, ankles...
Caused by: Stress, poor eating and exercise habits, genetic predisposition, eating out often, smoking and alcohol intake, cholesterol, high blood pressure...
You can: Get good amounts of exercise and sleep; reduce salt and sugar intake; minimise intake of saturated fats, and avoid trans fats; consume more fruit, veggies and omega 3 fatty acids...

Depression
Women Afflicted: 1 in 4
Indications: Feeling guilty worthless or apathetic, losing appetite or sleep, oversleeping, trouble focusing...
Caused by: Estrogen fluctuations; stress; troubled love, work or family life; health conditions, finances...
Could lead to: Lower immunity, suicidal tendencies
You can: Seek counselling, keep active, stay connected to friends and family, develop a new hobby, realise that all situations are temporary and will pass, look for the bright side

Diabetes
Women Afflicted: 1 in 5
Indications: Increased urination and excessive thirst, rapid weight loss, hunger, skin trouble, slow healing, yeast infections, fatigue...
Caused by: Stress, poor lifestyle, obesity, improper diet...
Could lead to: Renal failure, heart disease, nerve damage, cardiac arrest...
You can: Amp up your physical activity, make healthier food choices, keep an eye on your weight...

Hypothyroidism
Women Afflicted: >1 in 10
Indications: Tiredness, swollen ankles, dry skin, thinning hair and hair loss, muscle cramps and stiffness, excessive sensitivity to cold, hoarse voice, mood fluctuations, weight gain, memory issues...
Caused by: Autoimmune disorder (antibodies attacking the thyroid gland); genetically transferred from mother to daughter; thyroid surgery or treatments for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism
Could lead to: Infertility, miscarriages
You can: Explore alternative treatment options, from laughing clubs to diet control and psycho-spiritual practices. Medically speaking, thyroxine tablets are prescribed for a lifetime to replenish the deficient thyroid hormone levels; the dose is adjusted periodically according to an individual's thyroxine and TSH levels

Infertility
Women Afflicted: 1 in 10
Indications: If you've been trying to conceive for over a year and have not had much success, it's time to visit your gynaecologist
Caused by: Stress, delayed first pregnancy, obesity and other lifestyle disorders, smoking, alcohol consumption, genetics, PCOS, anaemia, STDs, and a variety of other medical conditions...
You can: Learn to manage stress better; give up smoking and drinking; don't postpone your first pregnancy; maintain a healthy weight... Medical remedies range from hormones, multivitamins and antioxidants to in-vitro fertilization (IVF)

Breast Cancer
Women afflicted: 1 in 28
Indications: Lump/thickening in breast; breast skin texture changes (reddening, crusting, scaling, dimpling); change in breast shape, size or symmetry; nipple retraction or discharge...
Caused by: Lifestyle, alcohol, birth-control pills, delayed first pregnancy, abortion, inadequate breast feeding, early menarche/ late menopause, obesity, genetic (10%)...
Could lead to: Death
You can: Change the way you eat, drink, live and think. Go for regular mammograms (every 2-3 years after you turn 40 and every year after menopause) if you are genetically predispositioned to develop cancer. Have your first child before 30 and breastfeed for as long as possible

by @Averil Nunes, with inputs from: Dr Subhojit Dey (MD, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi); Rupali Mehta (Mumbai-based nutritionist); Dr Tushar Bandgar (Mumbai-based endocrinologist); Dr Ashwini B Gandhi, Dr Reshma Pai, Dr Rekha Daver (Mumbai-based gynaecologists/obstetricians); WHO, Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, International Osteoporosis Foundation, Indian Psychosocial Foundation, Various Newspaper Reports, www.mayoclinic.org, www.health.com, tmc.gov.in , www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, www.nature.com, www.medical newstoday.com; www.webmd.com, health.india.com...
Note: All estimates are extrapolated approximations based on available data


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