COMMON HEALTH CONCERNS OF WOMEN
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    “क्‍या कभी कल्‍पना की हमने जिस धरती पर मानवता का संदेश होता है, उसी धरती पर मां के गर्भ में बच्‍ची को मौत के घाट उतार दिया जाए।”

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    Did you know? Gurugram is the first city in India to start all-women two-wheeler public transportation system!

Certain health-problems are more prevalent and common among women. Regularly visiting their family doctor or physician is one way to prevent the onset of any avoidable disease or ailment. Following are some of the most common health scares observed in women.

  • Breast cancer is the condition wherein the cells in the breasts turn cancerous. It’s one of the more common forms of cancers diagnosed in women.
  • With greater research funding, survival rates for breast cancer have increased world over. Mammograms are successful in indicating an early stage breast cancer, making it easier to treat it with less aggressive methods.
  • Although it occurs in both men and women both, women due to their biological makeup have a much greater susceptibility.

What are the warning signs?

Breast cancer is one of the more visible forms of cancers, and can be noticed in certain bodily changes. These include:

  • A breast lump or a thickening that feels different from the surrounding skin
  • Change in size, shape and appearance of a breast
  • Changes in skin over the area
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of skin
  • Redness of skin around the breast area

What can I do about it?

  • Increasing age, personal history of breast cancer, inherited genes that increase cancer risk, obesity, and range of other factors put an individual at a risk of developing breast cancer. Regular breast cancer screenings and mammograms as one’s age increases significantly improves the chance of catching cancer at an early stage and treating it.
  • However, if symptoms are already present, a practitioner must be consulted immediately for further tests and treatment.
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  • Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. Strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), transmitted during sexual activity, play a major role in causing cervical cancer.

What are the warning signs?

  • While the early stage cervical cancer has no obvious signs and symptoms, a more advanced stage witnesses vaginal bleeding upon intercourse, between menstrual cycles or after menopause. It is also marked by pelvic pain.

What can I do about it?

  • If symptoms are present, one must visit their physician, who’s likely to conduct tests that will suggest the presence or absence of cancerous cells. Early detection increases the chances of survival.
  • Women must take health check-ups and screening tests and also receive an HPV vaccine from the age of 21 for cervical cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer is the type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. It is a type of cancer unique to women.
  • The sooner that this type of cancer is detected, better is the chance of recovery. However, ovarian cancer doesn’t become evident till it spreads to the pelvis and abdomen.

What are the warning signs?

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Frequent need to urinate

What can I do about it?

  • One should make an appointment with their doctor either if they have any of the signs and symptoms or if they have a family history of ovarian/breast cancer.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome encompasses certain hormonal imbalances and metabolism issues that affect a woman’s overall health.

What are the warning signs?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is marked by certain symptoms that make it easy to self-diagnose. Look out for the following symptoms:

Sudden increase in body hair on face, legs and arms

  • Irregular menstrual or period cycle over a course of time
  • Sudden increase in acne on face, chest and upper back
  • Thinning hair, hair fall or male pattern baldness
  • Sudden weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Darkening of skin in areas and development of skin tags

What can I do about it?

  • If these symptoms are present, approach a doctor, who upon examination will create a special treatment plan for you to prevent long term health problems like diabetes or infertility.
  • PCOS can be controlled or prevented by introducing dietary changes as directed by your physician. Increasing daily exercise, increasing physical activity, and attempting to keep one’s weight in check are just some of the ways in which PCOS can be controlled.
  • Anaemia refers to a condition wherein the body does not possess adequate amount of red blood cells that are required to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. A deficiency in red blood cells can be attributed to bleedings which causes the loss, or when the body doesn’t create enough red blood cells or destroys them.
  • Red blood cells are essential as they contain haemoglobin, which enables them to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
  • Anaemia can be caused by an iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, a chronic disease that interferes with red blood cells production, bone marrow disease, etc. If left untreated, anaemia can cause severe fatigue, complications in pregnancy, heart problems and even death.

What are the warning signs?

Anaemia symptoms are often mild, and as a result often go unnoticed by most individuals. However, symptoms of anaemia can deteriorate an individual’s general health over time. Look out for the following symptoms:

What can I do about it?

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Pale and yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache
    • Fatigue and weaknessIf you experience any of the above symptoms, visit your family physician, who will conduct an exam for Complete Blood Count (CBC) and a test to determine the size and shape of your red blood cells. The physician may further conduct more tests on the basis of individual requirements.
    • As anaemia exists in different types and forms; the treatment package for the different forms varies. The appropriate treatment for the type of anaemia you have can be identified by your physician and be arranged accordingly.
  • If an individual does not receive an adequate amount of nutrients from their diet and food consumption, they can suffer from malnutrition. Lack of nutritious elements in one’s diet, lack of vitamin, unbalanced diet and certain medical problems can all contribute to malnutrition.
  • Malnutrition in older adults can further induce a weak immune system, increase the risk of infection, reduce wound healing ability, increase muscle weakness etc. Malnutrition can also cause a lack of appetite, further worsening the situation.
  • Malnutrition can be caused by certain conditions that cause a loss of appetite, like diarrhoea, liver disease or cancer. It can also be instigated by dementia, mental health conditions, inability to digest food etc.
  • Malnutrition can also be motivated by social factors like living alone, social isolation, poor knowledge about nutrient consumption, alcohol or drug dependency or low income and poverty.

What are the warning signs?

What can I do about it?

  • Sudden loss of weight (losing 5-10% of their body weight in three to six months) and a Body Mass Index lower than 18. 5
  • Reduced appetite and a lack of interest in food
  • Persistent tiredness and growing weakness
  • Getting ill too often and taking a long time to recover
  • Wounds taking a longer time to heal
  • Lack of concentration
  • Effects on mood or depression
  • Symptoms in children can include a reduced growth rate, changes in behaviour like irritability or low energy levels
    • Treatment for malnutrition is different across individuals and is often based upon the causal factor of your condition.
    • If you observe any of the above symptoms in yourself, a family member or a friend, contact your personal physician who will conduct tests and devise a tailor made diet plan. Depending upon individual circumstances, the physician might also recommend extra nutrients pills, feeding tubes and other measures.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STIs/STDs) are transmitted and acquired usually by sexual conduct. However, in some cases, these infections can also be transmitted from the mother to the child during pregnancy, during blood transfusions or reusing of needles.
  • Participating in unprotected sexual activity, having a history of STIs, sexual assault, injecting drugs through dirty needles are some of the risk factors that increase the chances of acquiring an STI.
  • Certain signs and symptoms of STIs include sores and bumps near genitals, painful/burning urination, discharges, and discomfort/pain during sexual activity, unusual vaginal bleeding, lower abdominal pain, fever or rash over the hands and feet.
  • If left untreated, STIs can cause multiple complications like pregnancy complications, infertility, heart diseases; HPV associated rectal or cervical cancer, arthritis, etc.

What are the various types of STIs?

Chlamydia

Although the signs and symptoms for chlamydia are often faint and unnoticeable, if you have participated in unprotected sexual activity, look out for the following symptoms.

  • Chlamydia is a bacterial infection in the genital tract, which is often difficult to detect because it causes almost no signs and symptoms.
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Burning sensation/pain during urination
    • Vaginal discharge
    • Lower abdominal pain
    • Irregular vaginal bleeding
    • Heavy periods

Gonorrhoea

  • Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection of the genetic tract. It can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus.
  • What are the warning signs?

    The signs and symptoms for gonorrhoea are often faint and most people aren’t able to observe them. However, if you’ve participated in unprotected sexual activity, look out for the following symptoms:

    • Heavy menstrual bleeding
    • Painful bowel movements
    • Burning sensation during urinating
    • Vaginal discharge
    • Lower abdominal pain
    • Bleeding after sexual intercourse

HIV-AIDS

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a range of problems caused by infection with HIV virus. The infection may first produce influenza-like symptoms, and eventually manifest itself as a reduced immunity and greater susceptibility of other infections.
  • HIV AIDS can be spread through unprotected sexual activity, used needles or syringes, breastfeeding, pregnancy.
  • It can be treated and individuals go on to live full lives, but it doesn’t have any cure at the present.
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Increased abdominal pain or pain by coughing
    • Fatigue, tiredness, loss of appetite or excessive sweating
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Persistent diarrhea and nausea
    • Difficulty swallowing and soreness

Genital herpes

  • Genital herpes is a common infection caused by Herpes Simplex virus (HSV), which is the same virus that causes cold sores.
  • Individuals often develop symptoms of HSV a few days after coming in contact with the virus, after which, painful blisters or sores usually develop, which may cause itching or tingling, or make it painful to urinate
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Small red bumps, blisters, open sores or ulcers in the genital, anal and nearby areas
    • Pain or itching in the genital area

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and genital warts symptoms

  • Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or changes in skin appearing around the genital or anal area. It is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and is one of the more common STIs.
  • In women, the warts can develop on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, the anus, cervix and even mouth or throat.
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Sometimes, genital warts cause no obvious symptoms. However, there are some that can be observable.
    • Swellings in the genital area
    • Clustering of warts together
    • Itching or discomfort in the genital area
    • Bleeding during intercourse

Syphilis

The symptoms of syphilis occur in the following four stages

  • Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can affect the mouth or the genital area. However, syphilis can involve many other parts of one’s body, including the brain and the heart.
  • Syphilis that affects the nervous system, causing headache, behaviour change or movement problems, is referred to as neurosyphilis.
  • What are the signs and symptoms?
    • Primary Stage , occurring between 10 to 3 months after exposure, causing a small, painless sore where the infection was transmitted
    • Secondary Stage, occurring between three to six weeks from exposure, which includes reddish brown rashes on any area, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, soreness and aching
    • Latent Stage, which follows the secondary stage in some individuals, wherein no symptoms are present. The symptoms usually return in the tertiary stage.
    • Tertiary Stage, where the spread of bacteria might lead to severe internal organ damage or even death. The signs of this stage include lack of coordination, dementia, paralysis, blindness or numbness.
  • What can I do about it?
    • Make an appointment with your physician or gynaecologist if you witness or observe any of the above stated signs and symptoms.
    • It is also wise to see a doctor if you are sexually active or have recently engaged in unprotected sexual activity.
    • In terms of preventing STIs, contraceptives including condoms offer one of the most effective methods for prevention.
  • Hepatitis includes three different forms- Hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis can cause one’s liver to become inflamed.
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Fever
    • Muscle pain, joint pain, abdominal pain
  • Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs, but can also damage other parts of the body. The bacterial nature of the disease makes it possible for it to be spread from one person to another, often through sneezing and coughing.
  • A weakened immune system increases the likelihood of acquiring tuberculosis.
  • Doctors distinguish between active TB (where the condition makes you sick and contagious) and latent TB (where the bacteria remains in the body but doesn’t induce symptoms). People with HIV/AIDS, IV drug users and health care professionals are at a greater risk for acquiring latent tuberculosis.
  • What are the warning signs?
    • Coughing that lasts more than three weeks
    • Coughing up blood
    • Chest pain
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Unintentional weight loss
    • Night sweats