7 Biggest Health Threats to Women

Many diseases discriminate between different genders because of hormones, life decisions, genes and so many other factors. Below are seven of the biggest health problems that women are at a greater risk for. Read to find out how you can prevent and treat them.

Heart disease

Learning early on how to take of your health can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease, a disease often thought of as a man’s disease. Yet it affects the same number of women as men. Heart disease refers to a number of heart conditions, most common of which is coronary artery disease. This condition reduces the blood flowing to the heart, which is a direct cause of a heart attack.

Prevention Tips

  • Limit your alcohol use
  • Stay physically active  by doing regular, moderate exercise
  • Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Lower stress levels
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Don’t smoke

There are several lifestyle choices and medical conditions, which can increase your risk for heart disease:

  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Extreme alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet choices

Even though almost 64% of women who suffer from heart disease don’t’ experience any symptoms, there are others who may experience one or several of the symptoms below:

  • Pain in the jaw, neck, throat, upper abdomen, or back
  • Discomfort, or dull, heavy/sharp pain in the chest (angina)
  • Indigestion/nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme fatigue
  • A sudden, severe headache

Cancer

Knowing how to defend your body against cancer is key. In addition, early detection is also crucial. The three most common causes of cancer among women are breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

Here are some ways to protect yourself against cancer:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Always use sunscreen to protect your skin
  • Get regular check-ups and screening tests
  • Know your family history and risks

Here are some of the symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Changes in your breasts
  • Constant bloating that lasts over 2 weeks
  • Changes in your skin
  • Bleeding between your periods
  • Blood in your urine
  • Trouble swallowing

Stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death among women. The biggest indicator of a stroke is a sudden onset of symptoms that last for a few minutes. If any or all of these symptoms last for 5 minutes or more, you should call 911 immediately:

  • Numbness of face, arm or leg
  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden onset of a headache without a known cause

By following these guidelines, you can lower your risk of strokes:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting regular physical exercise
  • Don’t smoke
  • Find ways to reduce stress in your life

Osteoporosis

Often referred to as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis usually develops over a number of years, almost usually without showing any symptoms.

It can affect women of all ages, but it almost always hits women after menopause, since with menopause comes a decreased rate of estrogen release in women’s bodies. And estrogen – the hormone that helps regulate women’s reproductive cycle – plays a crucial role in the prevention of bone loss.

Healthy bones are strong with interconnecting pieces to reinforce it. Your bones are strongest when you’re in your 30s, when you reach your peak bone mass. After that, they slowly start losing their minerals and becoming weaker and less dense.

Bones affected by osteoporosis are porous and weak. It becomes fragile so fractures happen more frequently and as a result of minor trauma, as a slight blow to the wrist.

Here are some of the best ways for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis:

  • Getting enough vitamin D and calcium, through diet, direct sunlight, and supplements (Women aged 19-50 should get 1000 mg/calcium/daily, while those over 50 should get 1200. Both groups should get 600 IU/day of vitamin D)
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Lift moderate weights because it helps strengthen bone mass and increases balance which helps prevent falls and slips
  • Transdermal and oral forms of estrogen for menopausal women

Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is when blood sugar levels are high due to the body’s inability to produce or process insulin in the blood. Insulin is what helps control the amount of sugar in the blood.

Symptoms Of Diabetes

  • Unintended weight loss/gain
  • Breath with a sweety/fruity odor
  • Reduction in feeling in hands or feet
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Wounds that heal slowly

Symptoms Unique Only To Women

  • Oral and/or vaginal yeast infections
  • Vaginal thrush
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression

In order to find long-lasting measures of prevention and treatment, work with your doctor to find a balance in diet and exercise that’s right for you. And one you can maintain as the years go by. Early diagnosis is key to decreasing the risk of developing complications from the disease.

Obesity

The rate of obesity in women far exceeds that of men’s all over the world, so much so that it’s turning into a worldwide crisis. And it’s increasing at an alarming rate, according to a recent research carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

But how do you know whether you’re obese or simply overweight? Simply measure your body mass index (BMI). Even though reversing obesity requires hard work and dedication, it can be done. Making the right choices when it comes to exercise and diet is key, even though these choices may not be the easiest or the most accommodating.

Obesity increases risks for a number of serious and chronic diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Breathing problems
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Joint pain
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Unfortunately, the responsibility of reversing this health trend that has spanned 3 generations falls not only on the individual, but also on the social, cultural, political, and financial standards that have slowly infiltrated their way into our lives.

Depression

The reason why depression is so much more common in women (they suffer at twice the rate of men) is mainly due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur each month, wreaking havoc on women’s emotions. This makes women more susceptible to irritability, fatigue, and anxiety.

Plus, women tend to think more than men, as well as be more emotionally invested in relationships than men. They also blame themselves more and feel more guilt than men feel.

Forms Of Depression Unique to Women

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Perinatal depression
  • Perimenopausal depression

Besides the hormonal changes that affect women and bring on depression, here are some other reasons behind depression:

  • Genetic factors
  • Medical conditions
  • Difficult life circumstances
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Stress

Some of the symptoms of being depressed are:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Nervousness
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • A sense of helplessness
  • Lack of hope

Depression requires medical care, but there are also things you can do at home:

  • Doing moderate exercise for 20 minutes has been scientifically proven to help release serotonin and dopamine, which are two chemicals, released by our brains that help us be more agreeable and motivated, thus feel less depressed.
  • Try meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises.
  • Eat right. When you drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods, you feel better about yourself in general; your self-esteem increases and you feel more confident about your body image and your decisions on a whole.
  • Connect with family and friends. When reaching out to loved ones, we boost our happiness because our brain releases oxytocin, a hormone released especially upon physical contact. So when you give your sister a hug, touch your friend on the shoulder, or even shake hands with a complete stranger, all these actions help with the release of the “happy” hormone.
  • Get good, quality sleep. About 8 hours ought to do it so you wake up with a fresh perspective on things, and a better ability to concentrate.

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