The most important health facts every woman should know

Posted on May 15, 2015

In celebration of the 16th annual National Women’s Health Week, May 10-16, we’re taking a closer look the health facts that all women need to know now.

The issues that affect you and what you can do about them.

Men and women are different. Ask any couple that has been together for a long time, and they can probably write a book on the subject. But the differences don’t stop at personalities — certain medical conditions affect women differently than men. Let’s take a look at the health facts that all women need to know, now.

On average, women live longer than men.

At first, this sounds like good news. But, it’s estimated that 50% of women over the age of 75 live an isolated existence. And 90% of nursing home residents are women. The majority of these women suffer from chronic health issues or substance abuse from depression. No matter where you are in your life, it’s important to start taking preventative measures, not only with your physical health but with your emotional health as well. Devote time to your loved ones. Cultivate positive relationships. Stay social.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.

Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death, but it’s also the leading cause of premature death. One reason could be that heart disease goes undiagnosed in women more often than in men. For example, during a heart attack, some women may not feel chest pain. Instead, their symptoms might include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaw pain
  • Shoulder ache
  • Shortness of breath

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Maybe it’s just a sore shoulder, but it could be something much worse. Don’t risk it.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence due to the various successful treatment options. Still, it’s important to check your breasts regularly via self-examination as well as with your doctor. The sooner breast cancer is detected, the better your chances are for survival.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women.

Although breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, lung cancer kills more women. The best defense against lung cancer is not smoking. However, the number of female non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer is rising. Most women are diagnosed with adenocarcinoma — a form of cancer with symptoms that usually don’t appear until its later stages, making it even more dangerous. Talk to your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent cough or sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite

Thyroid disorders are much more common in women than in men.

The thyroid gland controls all of the metabolic processes in your body. Disorders of the thyroid range from small to large and present various symptoms depending on the type of disorder.

Hyperthyroidism — a condition in which the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone — can cause the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Goiters
  • Lighter menstrual cycles

Hypothyroidism — a condition in which the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones — can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Tingling or numbness in hands
  • Goiters
  • Constipation
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Weight gain

If you think you have a thyroid disorder, talk to your doctor. If you ignore it, the condition can become more serious.

Osteoporosis is largely preventable.

Although associated with aging, osteoporosis in NOT a normal part of the aging process. It’s true that genetics can play a part in your chances of developing osteoporosis, but it is mostly preventable. Because we start losing bone mass in our 30s, it’s important that prevention begins early in life. But no matter what age you are, you can better protect yourself against osteoporosis through the following preventative measures:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • The average premenopausal woman should weigh at least 127 pounds, or whatever weight is healthy for her height. Underweight premenopausal women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than those who maintain a healthy weight.
  • Engage in weight-bearing exercises to strengthen bones.
  • Make sure you’re eating enough calcium and vitamin D.

Depression seems to affect more women than men.

Hormonal changes can certainly cause depression in women. But women tend to become depressed more easily due to stress, hanging on to negative feelings, experiencing feelings of guilt, and putting others’ needs before their own. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor:

  • Depressed mood
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Significant weight changes
  • A lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • A lack of energy or suicidal thoughts

Power is prevention.

There are some frightening facts in the above list. But there are measures you can take, starting today, that can help prevent major problems. Environmental and genetic factors will always play a part, but if you adopt healthy behaviors, your risk of disease and premature death can be significantly lowered.

  • Exercise, and maintain an active lifestyle
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods
  • Fill your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Be social
  • Devote time to positive relationships
  • Rid yourself of negative relationships
  • Have something to look forward to daily
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Avoid indoor and outdoor pollutants
  • Get regular checkups

To sign up for a class or make an appointment with a specialist, call 423-778-2564.

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