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Shield of Preventive Health Check Ups for Women

Shield of Preventive Health Check Ups for Women

Posted By Rupa Jaiswal Posted on Dec 02, 2021

Countless ballads have been sung and poems versed on the Woman as a shield to those She loves - a shield reinforced with compassion and held steady with the forbearance unique to womankind. In Her perpetual quest to bring happiness to all those around her, a Woman often forgets to care for Herself. Such selfless acts should not be rewarded by suffering or disease that arise from self-neglect. In today's date, while routine health check-ups are rapidly becoming a norm for everyone, the needs of women are different, and their health routines are also divergent. That makes it no less important for them to get tested for the most common disorders that afflict women.

Shield of Preventive Health Check Ups for Women

Women Health check-ups - Why the need?

There are many disorders that are either specific to, or are more prevalent in women. Screening for these regularly is important as they may have lasting consequences on health and over all well-being of a woman. A health check-up would cover the assessments of history, potential risks and a tailored physical examination with the ultimate aim of preventing a disease and promoting good health. In these check-ups, patient history is examined, especially with regards to use of tobacco, alcohol abuse, and other factors like Depression and violence. It includes testing for common sexually transmitted diseases, especially in women who engage in high risk behavior. Other more routine check-ups look out for diseases that commonly occur in women and can be avoided or successfully managed if detected on time.

The following tests are components of a routine health check-up
1. Pap smear - Tests for HPV infection and cervical cancer
Cervix (the mouth of the womb) is the region of the vagina that is closest to the uterus. If the cells in this region become abnormal and begin to divide uncontrollably, it can develop into cervical cancer. The major cause of this cancer is infection by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). More than 70% of cervical cancer cases can be attributed to two types of the virus-HPV-16 and HPV-18. Other risk factors include Smoking, weakened immune system and long term use of oral. contraceptives. In India, cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women. But as it takes time to develop, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer if detected early. Cervical cancer accounts for 74,000 deaths every year in India.

The changes in the cell of the cervix that eventually develop into cervical cancer can be examined through the Pap smear, in which some cells of the cervix are collected and examined for abnormality under the microscope. The major benefit of this technique is that it can detect cancer in its precancer stage, which can help stop the cancer in its tracks even before it fully develops.

2. Lipid profile - Tests for Risk of heart disease and stroke
Heart diseases are considered to be rarer in women than in men, yet they are quite prevalent especially in post menopausal women, where the levels of the heart protective hormone estrogen begin to decline. Even before this phase, one may be lulled into a false sense of security when they do not observe any obvious symptoms that their heart may be at risk. This necessitates regular check-ups of lipid profile levels which assess the amount of different types of cholesterol present in the blood.

The types of cholesterol that are analyzed include high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL??) cholesterol, and other forms of lipids like triglycerides. In excess of normal amounts, LDL and triglycerides cause the narrowing of blood vessels which can block blood flow to different organs of the body. If one of these organs is the brain, it could result into a stroke and if it is heart it can result in heart attack.

3. Complete Hemogram - Tests for- Anemia, any inflammatory condition also helps to detect a recent infection.
In a hemogram, the levels of different blood cells are assessed. In addition to the Red blood cells that transport oxygen all over the body, there are also different types of white blood cells like neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils. Decreased levels of hemoglobin in RBCs can be indicative of anemia.

The lack of oxygen in the body causes weakness and paleness which is characteristic of anemia. The levels of white blood cells being abnormal is indicative of a recent or current infection, or an allergic reaction. People who have compromised immune system may show low levels of WBCs.

Among the inflammatory infections, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus as well as liver and kidney diseases can be detected with this blood test.

4. Thyroid profile - Tests for Thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, thyroiditis (inflammation of thyroid) and others like Graves disease.

Thyroid disorders can be a harmless goiter or life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problem is Hypothyroidism, in which the levels of thyroid hormones are abnormally low. It is more common in women, with a prevalence of around 11% in India. Hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid hormones are abnormally high, can occur due to various conditions like subacute thyroiditis and Graves' disease or pituitary gland malfunctions.

The thyroid gland produces hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) which control metabolic processes in the body. When a woman suffers from the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism the levels of these hormones are tested. Along with this, another hormone produced by the pituitary, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) can also be tested.

Hypothyroidism
Lethargy
Unexplained weight gain
Cold sensitivity
Slower heart rate, etc.

Hyperthyroidism
Restlessness and irritability
Unexplained weight loss
Abnormal or fast heart rate
Heat intolerance
Healthy lifestyle, diet, weight management and regularly taking medicines along with the regular monitoring of thyroid functioning are key to happy life despite suffering from thyroid disease.

5. Calcium and Vitamin D levels - Tests for Risk of bone diseases like osteoporosis
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. It assists the uptake of calcium from food so that it is available for being incorporated into bones. If there is a deficiency of Vitamin D, one can't create enough hormone calcitriol which absorbs the calcium from diet. In this situation, the body absorbs the calcium from the skeleton which weakens the bones and prevents the formation of new bone.

Deficiency in either calcium or vitamin D can become a cause of bone disorders. One of these is osteoporosis, which increases in incidence in menopausal women as their estrogen levels begin to drop sharply.

Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with other symptoms like lethargy and reduced immunity, eventually leading to brittle bones, delayed wound healing, depression and even some cancers

They say Charity begins from home; in the same way, caring for others begins with caring for self. health checkups should not be considered a luxury or something to turn to only when one already comes down with disease. Rather, they should be considered as an annual or biannual routine to be followed with diligence. For the Woman is the foundation of a family and therefore, society- it is the strength of the foundation that reflects the strength of them whole structure.

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