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You’re not alone

Published : January 02, 2016

Often when diagnosed with a medical problem, we can be silent in the assumption we are suffering alone when in fact this is not the case. Here, Flourish recognises some of the more common medical issues influencing Australian women.

By : Tammi Ireland

 

Urinary Tract Infection

Urgently and frequently needing to go to the bathroom and pain when passing urine could be symptoms of a urinary tract infection.  Approximately 50 per cent of women will suffer from a UTI in their lifetime, as the female urethra – the tube that excretes urine from the bladder – is quite short, making it easy for bacteria such as E. coli to be transmitted to the urinary tract from the vagina and anus, particularly following intercourse.  See your doctor immediately if you feel you could be suffering from a UTI, as antibiotics are the best way to get rid of the infection.  Peripheral treatment methods include drinking lots of water to flush out the infection.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

A hormonal disorder affecting approximately one in eight women of reproductive age, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is where eggs fail to properly mature and release from the ovary, resulting in cysts.  Symptoms of PCOS include erratic menstrual cycles, weight gain (particularly in the upper body), excessive facial or body hair, and acne on the face or body.  While the cause of PCOS is not yet clear, it is believed genetics and lifestyle are both contributing factors.  With early diagnosis, PCOS can be managed to reduce long-term risks such as infertility, heart disease and high blood fats. 

Depression

About 15 per cent of women develop depression as they approach menopause.  With the constant intensification of ‘down’ feelings such as sadness, moodiness and feeling low, symptoms of depression include finding it difficult to partake in social outings, sleep through the night and function day-to-day, as well as significant weight loss, being irritable and losing interest in pleasurable activities.  Likely to get worse if left untreated; healthcare professionals best deal with depression, both psychologically and medically.  There are also a great deal of support groups available to sufferers, such as Beyond Blue. 

Osteoporosis

More than 25 per cent of women will develop osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime, and more than 50 per cent of women aged 65 and above have osteoporosis but may not know it.  Commonly called the ‘silent thief’ because it can go undetected for long periods of time before symptoms appear, osteoporosis is a progressive disease resulting in weak and brittle bones.  Be sure to get your recommended daily intake of calcium and vitamin D, do weight exercises and limit alcohol, as although stereotypically believed to be associated with the elderly, osteoporosis can affect women from a young age. 

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Common in women nearing menopause, teenage girls and the elderly, iron deficiency anaemia is when there is a lack of oxygen in the blood due to low iron levels in the cells.  Excessive exercise, heavy menstrual cycles and pregnancy can contribute to iron deficiency anaemia.  Symptoms include tiredness, headaches and becoming short of breathe when exercising, however iron supplements and a good diet can keep these under control.  




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