A lot of women in India die due to negligence of health. Women’s health issues are concerns and warning signs every female in the world faces at sometime in their lives. Avoiding health concerns and symptoms is not the case only with rural and uneducated women, it is the same with smart, educated women, they too avoid going to the doctor, even when it should be a top priority. Moreover, most women opt to see their physician only long after a symptom has persisted. Last week we did an article on '10 Health Warning Signs No Man Should Ever Ignore'. So we decided to take it forward and do the same series for women as well. Here are 11 heath warning signs that every woman should take note of.
1. Lumps in the breast
It's always worrying when you find a lump under your skin where it shouldn’t be. It is important not to ignore it. The majority of such lumps are harmless, but it's always best to get them checked out. Lumps in the breast are mostly benign (non-cancerous) and are merely breast tissue that has grown more than it should or where it shouldn't.
Cysts are another false alarm, these are smooth, mobile lumps and some are large enough to be seen through the skin. They may be painful.
2. Sudden changes in breast
If your nipple gets scaly or starts flaking, that could indicate Paget’s disease of the nipple, which is linked to an underlying cancer in about 95% of cases. Any milky or bloody nipple discharge should also be checked out. Dimpling of the skin over the breast, particularly if it looks like the skin on an orange, is something to be worried about. Such dimpling is most often linked to inflammatory breast cancer, a rare, usually aggressive cancer characterized also by swollen, hot, red breasts. Expect your doctor to do a breast exam and medical history, followed by a mammogram and most likely a sonogram. Depending on the results of both tests, your doctor might do a biopsy.
3. Unusual vaginal discharge
A foul or smelly vaginal discharge could be a symptom of cervical cancer. The discharge may contain blood and may occur between periods or after menopause. It's best not to self-treat a discharge. A thorough exam by a doctor is necessary to determine if the discharge is due to an infection or something more serious.
4. Swelling in Legs or Persistent Pain in Joints
If you notice swelling in one or both legs, particularly after you’ve been traveling in a car or airplane, see a doctor. Swelling in one leg can mean a blood clot. If it's in both legs, it could be a sign of kidney or liver disease. Chronic or constant pain in joints could mean something more serious than arthritis, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which may require steroid treatment.
5. Sudden rectal bleeding
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. One of the hallmarks is rectal bleeding, which many people link to hemorrhoids, the most common cause. But it's not always that. Red or dark blood in your stool warrants a visit to your doctor. Your doctor will likely do a rectal exam and order a colonoscopy.
6. Difficulty while breathing
Being out of breath after climbing a set of stairs is considered normal among the majority of women. So it can be difficult to diagnose mild problems if you are generally unhealthy and exercise little. If you find it hard to breathe whilst you are at rest, for example sitting or lying down then this can be a problem and this should be checked with your doctor. Constantly feeling breathless and finding it hard to get your breath, with even the slightest exertion, is a definite sign that your heart and lungs are not working as they should be. Having these symptoms can be a sign that you have asthma, bronchitis, as well as other heart and lung problems. Episodes of extreme anxiety can also lead to panic attacks, which can leave you gasping for air with a rapid heart rate.
7. Sudden weight loss
Losing weight without making major changes to lifestyle, such as improving diet or adopting an exercise regime, may sound like a dream come true for most women. But this may indicate more serious conditions that are more like a nightmare. If you have lost up to 10 per cent of your bodyweight in the last six months without any changes to your lifestyle, this can indicate more serious health conditions. An unexplained drop in weight can be an indication of depression, diabetes, hyperactive thyroid and liver disease.
8. Unexpected bleeding
You should always see your doctor if you have been bleeding for unexplained reasons. Bleeding after sex or in between your periods should also not be ignored because this can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids and in rare cases cervical cancer.
Nosebleeds that are heavy, last longer than 20 minutes and come from further up the nasal passage should always be checked out. They could be signs of drug sensitivity, high blood pressure or a tumor of the nasal cavity.
Coughing up phlegm with blood in it should not be confused with bleeding from the mouth and gums. Blood coughed up containing mucus is usually bubbly because it has mixed with the air. This coupled with chest pain and shortness of breath can point to pneumonia, cystic fibrosis or a growth in the lung.
9. Always feeling tired
Today women work harder than ever, stressful work, family life and keeping up with other interests. Most of the times, we sacrifice our sleep to fulfill these tasks. The result? One in five people complain of being regularly tired. If you seem to be always tired for a period longer than a week, you may have emotional problems that you're not dealing with well on your own. This can be a sign of depression. Other physiological problems that can be diagnosed from this symptom include sleep apnoea, cancer and even diabetes.
10. Itchy skin
Having a sudden onset of itchy skin could be an allergic reaction to a new product you have used, which has been in contact with your skin. This can be a new soap or even washing detergent that has not agreed with you and has caused an allergic response.
If you're still itchy after phasing out any probable causes for your reaction, it could be eczema. Eczema is a common condition. But in such case please visit your doctor. It's of the utmost importance that you see your doctor if you're constantly itching whilst you are pregnant. This is a major symptom of cholestasis, which is a liver condition that can seriously harm your unborn baby.
11. Bruising easily
Bruises are an indication that the capillaries, which carry blood to and around your skin, have been damaged due to heavy contact. The familiar red wine color is caused by the leaking blood that has seeped into the skin itself. If you find you seem to bruise easily or on areas that are not prone to being hit, you may wish to speak to your doctor. Women are more likely to bruise. In some cases bruising easily is a symptom of problems such as lupus, cirrhosis of the liver and leukemia.