Men and women certainly share some common health risks. However, studies show that women are more susceptible to certain disorders than men, even though the life longevity of the former is superior. Women in India face numerous health issues, and to select just one is like pulling out a needle in a haystack.
On this International Women’s Day, to help women care for their health better, let’s look at the top health issues they face. Women must take charge of their health, look for signs and accept that something might be wrong. By paying attention to their bodies and consulting the physicians in a timely manner, a lot of these problems can be controlled or avoided.
Let’s look at the top five health issues:
HEART DISEASE: A leading killer, Heart Disease impacts both men and women, and its reach has increased tenfold in the recent years, especially amongst women. Although more men face fatality when it comes to heart disease, a lot of women go undiagnosed for years. The factors that contribute to heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoke. Menopause due to lower Estrogen levels, coinciding with the aforementioned concerns also increases the risk. The best way to avoid the risk to the heart is by making lifestyle changed, exercise regularly, follow a healthy diet andmaintain ideal body weight.
BREAST CANCER: Breast Cancer is the most common cancer affecting women today. If women undergo screenings regularly, Breast Cancer can be diagnosed and treated effectively. Some of the risks include age, family history of the disease, menopause or early onset of menstruation (at about 12yrs), abnormal breast biopsy, etc. The ideal way of avoiding Breast Cancer is to be physically active, limit alcohol, control weight and quit smoking,and most importantly getting yourself screened, especially if there is family history.
GYNECOLOGICAL HEALTH: The menstrual cycle plays an important role in a woman’s life. However during menstruation, certain symptoms may indicate underlying health issues. Unsafe sex practices pose as major risks to women and young girls. Consulting a doctor in time, following safe sex practices, maintaining good health parameters, keeping your weight in check and by being active, can reduce the risk for gynaecological concerns amongst women.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Osteoporosis than men, as they tend to have smaller, thinner bones. Estrogen that supports bone health decreases over a period of time, as women inch closer to menopause. Some of the risk factors include small body structures, poor nutritional habits, alcohol and smoking, high dependence on medication, etc. although many treatment options are available post diagnosis; prevention is easier than cure. The foremost ‘to-do’ should be adoption of a healthier lifestyle, focusing on a good diet along with sufficient exercise. A diet rich in Vitamin D and Calcium, as prescribed by your physician, will aid in prevention of Osteoporosis; it is also a must to avoid smoking and drinking.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: Women have a 50 percent higher chance of being depressed than men. Women experience more biological changes as compared to men. These include menstruation, pregnancy and menopause; hormonal changes associated with these factors may lead to a women being anxious or depressed.
Social conditioning which promotes ideal body image, ideal beauty standards etc. also induces self-doubt and loathing. It is a must to confide in someone you trust, who can lend support and help seek effective treatment; there are various helplines and professionals who can treat this growing problem, considering a woman must take the first step to seek help.
(Writer Dr Farah Ingale is Senior Internal Medicine Specialist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)