Ladies, it’s time to think about your health!

Mar 24, 2022

Written by Michelle Okonieczny, Family Nurse Practitioner, Oak Orchard Health

Women tend to be the caregivers in families, whether they’re caring for their parents or their children and significant others, but they often ignore their own health. It’s important that they take time for themselves which is why I’m dedicating this article to that topic.

Yearly exams and preventing Cervical Cancer

Many Moms wouldn’t think of skipping their kids’ “Well Child” visits each year, but they don’t always come in for their yearly physicals. During your physical, we’ll take your blood pressure, weight, address any health issues and talk about preventative measures for your future. For women, we’ll also do a Pap Smear if that’s appropriate.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. Detecting cervical cancer early with a Pap smear gives you a greater chance at a cure.

How can you manage your stress?

Stress affects women (and everyone) in different ways. It’s often a major factor in weight gain and struggles with mental health. Remember, you can’t take care of anybody if you’re not taking care of yourself.

How can you help yourself? Some simple tips include increased exercise such as walking which gives you the added benefit of some quiet time – time with your own thoughts. If you don’t allow yourself some downtime, you’re going to burn out. If you’d like to talk with a behavioral health professional, Oak Orchard Health offers counseling that can be done by phone, video, or in-person. Getting outside perspective and advice can be super helpful to your mental health.

Healthy eating

Eating healthy can make a world of difference in your life but it does take planning and thoughtful purchases. Staying away from fast foods, processed foods, and high-calorie drinks can have a big impact on weight loss. Diets that include lots of vegetables or vegetables with fish, are the best for you. I understand that people are busy and often don’t have the time to prep fresh vegetables, but you can get the same nutritional value if you microwave or steam frozen vegetables. Be sure to read the labels when purchasing and look for lower calorie and carbohydrate items. You will be surprised that there are healthy items in the frozen food area beyond just frozen vegetables.

Eating regularly is as important as what you eat. Be sure to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and avoid eating late at night. If you find yourself hungry late at night or in between meals, look to healthy snacking like vegetables such as cucumbers or even a small salad with lite dressing.

Breast cancer and early detection

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It can occur at any age, but the risk goes up as you get older. Because of certain factors, some women may have a greater chance of having breast cancer than others, according to the American Cancer Society.

Many of you reading this article already know that getting a mammogram is the #1 way to detect breast cancer – but when should you get one? The American Cancer Society recommends women start at age 40 for their yearly breast cancer screening and I agree. Should you have a family history of breast cancer you may need to get your mammogram earlier, particularly if that family member was under 40 years of age. If that’s the case, you may want to start mammograms at 35.

Shingles, what are they?

The CDC reports that a number of studies have revealed that more women than men develop shingles, although it states that the reason for the disparity is not known. What are shingles? Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has chickenpox, the virus stays in their body and becomes inactive. Years later, the virus can reactivate, causing shingles.

Often people associate Shingles with a terrible rash, but it can also show up like a fever, malaise, flu-like symptoms, and sometimes the rash can be very minimal. This virus can also cause meningitis so it’s extremely important to see your medical provider and get treated. If you are 50 or older, you are eligible to get the Shingles vaccine to prevent getting this often very painful disease.

We hope you’ve found this article to be helpful. Should you have any other questions, please contact your medical professional at Oak Orchard Health.

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