A women’s health check must take a closer look at signs and symptoms of diseases that are known to be more prevalent amongst women.
WHAT ARE THE 5 IMPORTANT HEALTH ISSUES THAT WOMEN NEED TO BE SCREENED FOR?
Getting an annual health check up is required to make sure one’s overall health is one the right track. It also helps doctors screen for certain age-specific or gender-specific diseases. A women’s health check, besides covering tests that investigate general health and well-being, must also take a closer look at signs and symptoms of diseases that are known to be more prevalent amongst women.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women. It develops in the ducts and lobules in the glands of the breast and if left untreated the cancer tends to spread to nearby breast tissues and even other organs in the body. Advanced treatment modalities have drastically reduced the number of breast cancer related deaths, with routine breast examinations and mammograms playing a significant role in early diagnosis and treatment. Women above the age of 40, with a strong family history of breast cancer are at increased risk for the condition.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer to watch out for:
Most women’s health check-ups include a Mammogram for women aged 45 and above. This is an x-ray of the breast and helps identify any abnormalities in the breast tissues. If any abnormalities are detected, further investigation may be recommended to rule out cancer.
Symptoms of to watch out for:
A Pap Smear Test has proven most effective in screening for. The test involves extracting cells from the cervix in order to test for abnormalities indicative of precancerous changes. It is advised that women begin getting pap tests at the age of 21, and once every 3 years thereafter (or as recommended by the doctor).
While osteoporosis is not a gender-specific condition it has been found to occur more commonly amongst women. Osteoporosis is 4 times more likely to occur in older women than in men. Osteoporosis is a condition in which excess bone loss leads to reduced bone density which in turn causes the bones to be brittle. Post-menopause, oestrogen production is reduced, and this is one of the causes for lowered bone density in women. Those with a family history of osteoporosis are also at higher risk of developing the condition. Ensuring a diet that provides the body with the required amount of calcium on a daily basis can help maintain strong healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. Dairy products, leafy greens, salmon, sardine, soy products and cereals fortified with calcium are good sources of calcium.
Women aged 50 and above can check with their doctor and undergo a DEXA scan which measures bone density and can predict risk of future fractures depending upon current readings.
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that play a very important role in metabolism, and hence the underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones impacts the overall well-being of the individual. It has been found that women are ten times more likely to develop thyroid disorders than men and have a greater impact on women than men.
Irregular periods, unexplained weight gain/ loss and mood swings are common symptoms of Thyroid disorders. Discuss with your doctor on how often you need to get a Thyroid Function Test to stay ahead of any health issues.
Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve which plays a vital role in vision. Hence a damaged optic nerve can lead to irreversible blindness, which makes it important to understand who is more at risk and how to prevent the condition. Glaucoma is essentially an age-related condition, putting both elderly men and elderly women at risk. However, research shows that women are more at risk and studies indicate that this has something to do with reduced oestrogen levels which increases intraocular pressure leading to optic nerve damage. Menopausal women who have low levels of oestrogen are at a higher risk and may benefit from hormone replacement therapy to reduce intra ocular pressure.
The biggest trouble with glaucoma is that there are next to no signs until the disease has advanced and vision is considerably compromised. Some Glaucoma symptoms to watch out of for:
Getting regular dated eye examinations can help detect glaucoma in its early stages. Those with a family history of glaucoma and those with diabetes are at higher risk for the condition and an annual visit to the ophthalmologist is mandatory. There is no cure for the disease and glaucoma blindness is irreversible, but with the right treatment its progress can be slowed down
CONSULTANT – GENERAL PHYSICIAN
MBBS, MD (GENERAL MEDICINE)