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Make this new year healthier...

Make this new year healthier...
Highlights

Sedentary lifestyle, increasing stress and many other factors have majorly contributed to the rising health problems in women.

Sedentary lifestyle, increasing stress and many other factors have majorly contributed to the rising health problems in women. As a result, incidences of diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, vitamin D deficiency, thyroid disorders, heart diseases and cancers have increased tremendously.

Incidence of diabetes in Indian women is rising alarmingly. According to data, approximately 29 million women are affected by high blood sugar. However, Indian women with diabetes still play a 'caretaker role' in the family and prioritise the health of others above their own. Moreover, inequitable access to resources prevents early diagnosis of the disease in women.

Another disease - Hypertension is easiest disease to diagnose and treat. A few blood pressure recordings can confirm the disease but number of women affected by High Blood pressure is very high. According to studies by WHO it is found in 22.60 per cent Indian women.

Vitamin D deficiency and reduced bone mineral density on the other hand is widespread. Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in India due to several factors.

Thirty minutes of exposure of the skin over the arms and face to sunlight, without application of sunscreen, preferably between 10 AM to 2 PM (as maximum ultraviolet B rays are transmitted during this time) daily is adequate to avoid vitamin D deficiency.

Thyroid disease prevalence in women is high and the disorder mostly affected older women, especially the ones with hormonal imbalances such as the one occurring around menopause, or during pregnancy etc. In recent times, however, the incidence of thyroid disorders amongst urban women their early 30s, has increased and is on the rise. Almost 30 per cent – 35 per cent of women belonging to this age group are affected. According to clinical data, the current trend of abnormal thyroid status in younger women is because the urban young women of today, though highly educated, in an attempt to make it big in their career or in order to follow the modern-day lifestyle, tend to neglect their health to the extent of criminal neglect.

Not only is their diet improper (deficient in iodine) and unbalanced from the perspective of adequate and accurate nutrition, they also lack the required physical activity appropriate for their age.

Whilst they are in the hot pursuit of their career and changed stress-inducing lifestyle, there sets in a scenario where these women tend to turn a blind eye to symptoms such as obesity, failure to lose weight, tiredness, body ache, mood swings, excessive hair fall, balding scalp, irritability, menstrual disorders, difficulty in conception, repeated miscarriages etc., which typically point towards medical disorders, of which thyroid related ailments are the most common presenting with such symptomatology. Diabetic women are more prone to a disturbed thyroid profile. Also, over-burden of toxins caused by pollution through air, water, and food add fuel to the fire.

An early diagnosis goes a long way in preventing this serious health disorder.

A change in lifestyle like a healthy diet, exercise, proper nutrition and stress reduction can help minimise the chance of developing thyroid disease. Sea-kelp, selenium, flaxseed oil, zinc, multivitamins etc. can help in hypothyroid cases.

Heart disease is most under diagnosed disease in women as the chest pains are neglected and women present to hospital with complications of Heart attack and hence morbidity and mortality is very high in women. Obesity, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, and menopause and lack of knowledge about the symptoms of heart attack lead to high mortality in women.

There is a particular lack of information about the prevention and management of atherosclerotic heart disease in women from a range of communities that comprise the extremely diverse population of India. Westernisation of Indian women has led to smoking and alcohol addiction and this is also contributing to high cardiovascular disease in women.

Last but not the least incidence of cancers in women is on rise, and Indian women on top with highest number of cervical cancer deaths in the world. Pap smear examination and knowledge about its value in detection of cervical cancer at the earliest is lacking. No of women died of breast cancer in 2011 was 50,821, Andhra Pradesh 3,863 experts say now women marry late and give birth to fewer children all of which lead to dip in cervical cancer but rise in breast cancer.

Breast cancer is now moving ahead of cervical cancer in the prevalence. Educated and uneducated lack knowledge about self-breast examination and awareness to seek help. Late marriages, fewer children, use of oral contraceptive pills, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are fuelling the cancer growth in women.

(The writer is a senior consultant Internal Medicine, Hyderabad)

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