Busy lives and juggling work and family often mean our own health is the last thing women think about. But if you’ve been ignoring any of these warning signs, now’s the time to get them checked out.
Feeling worn out is a common side effect of modern lifestyles but chronic fatigue could be a sign of many health issues, some of which can be easily resolved.
If your energy levels have been low for more than two weeks you could have a deficiency in your diet, such as iron (causing anaemia), or an imbalance of hormones. Thyroid problems can make you feel tired and can be treated with medication. In some cases constant tiredness can be a symptom of something more serious, such as lung cancer, heart disease, or depression, so don’t keep putting up with it.
Your shape – apple or pear
While it isn’t exactly a symptom, your shape can give you an early indication of potential health problems so it’s a good idea to be aware where you put weight on (even if you don’t want to admit it to anyone else!). If you are apple shaped and put weight on around your tummy then you’re statistically more likely to run into health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
If your waist is over 32” (80cm) it’s worth keeping an eye out for symptoms of diabetes. Over 35” (88cm) and you’re even more at risk of both diabetes and heart disease.
Being pear-shaped may not seem like a blessing but generally putting weight on your bottom and thighs doesn’t signal as many health worries.
Bleeding between periods
As well as being annoying and alarming, bleeding when it’s not your period can signal a number of health concerns. It’s a symptom of some gynaecological cancers but is also linked to other conditions, many far less serious. These include hormone imbalances, reactions to the pill or other contraceptives, endometriosis, STDs and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Any bleeding between periods or after the menopause needs to be checked out by your doctor. Pain in the area is also a sign something’s not right, so report any pain or bleeding during or after sex to your doctor as well as if you feel constantly bloated or have pelvic pain.
Breast cancer awareness has never been higher but still many women are unaware of changes in their breasts. Get to know how yours fluctuate over the month and keep an eye out for the warning signs – lumps or thickening of the skin around the breast or armpit, discharge from the nipple, puckering or reddening of the skin and changes in shape of both the breast and the nipple. Breast cancer doesn’t always cause pain but any soreness should also be checked out. There are many other causes of these symptoms though so don’t be afraid of going to the doctors to put your mind at ease.
Heart attacks, heart disease and strokes are the biggest killer of women in the UK. And while classic symptoms of a heart attack will have you straight on the phone to 999 (UK) 911 (USA), there are many other signs of heart problems you may ignore and dismiss as something else. These include a heavy feeling on the chest, tightness or crushing and also milder chest pain, which can feel a little like a bad case of indigestion. Two fifths of women, particularly at the younger end of the spectrum, have reported experiencing no chest pain before having a heart attack, which is why it’s vital to get any discomfort checked out in case.