As a woman you know the importance of self-health checks, you probably perform a regular breast exam in the shower and head on down to your health care provider if you discover something that just isn’t right. But even though you think you are doing a good health check the chances are that you might still be missing some signs and clues and may not notice most of what your body is trying to tell you.
Staying on top of your health goes far beyond popping in to see your doctor once a year for a check-up which usually lasts no more than 10 minutes, right? In fact, many serious health problems such as cancer are first diagnosed at home and not in the doctor’s office. Actually, research shows that patients are usually the first to notice their own health problems.
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It doesn’t matter how good your doctor is they don’t know if that mole has always been that color or size or if you are normally that hot (or cold). At the end of the day, you know your body better than anyone else. Even the smallest of changes such as a bump on your eyelid or even as simple as a line on your fingernail can be potential red flags to potential health issues some of which may even be life threatening.
Simple Self-Health Checks for Women That Take Less Than 1 Minute
So starting from today, make a promise to yourself (and your body) to start doing some simple self-heath checks and to be honest many will take no more than one minute.
1. Check Your Nails
What to look for: Dark Yellowish, brown, or black lines on your nail beds.
This could mean: This could be a sing of skin cancer. Shape changing moles are not the only sign of skin cancer and the disease can also show up under your finger nails. These yellowish, brown, or black lines on the fingernails can tell telling signs of cell damage caused by melanoma which is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society around one person dies every hour from melanoma skins cancer complications. Also, melanoma diagnosis rates in young women are increasing.
What should you do: If you start to notice a dark yellowish, brown, or black lines on your nail beds go and see your doctor. He or she will take a look and most likely refer you to a dermatologist for further inspection. It’s not all doom and gloom, according to the American Cancer Society when detected and treated early about 98% of melanomas are curable.
If you are fair skinned or have had bad sunburns or extended sun exposure as a child can increase your chances of skin cancers. Actually, it can take many years and often decades to develop so even if you do the right thing now and use sunscreen your sun exposure as a child could still be putting you at risk.
2. Check Your Flow
What to look for: Spotting all through the month.
This could mean: Many of you will just put irregular vaginal bleeding down to stress, and in most cases that will be the cause. However, spotting all through the month could also be a sign of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or even a sign of cervical cancer.
What should you do: Again it comes back to you, only you know your body and you will be the first to see any changes. So if you start to see or notice something isn’t quite right its best to take yourself to your gynecologist or health practitioner. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, but a regular annual Pap smear can actually reduce and even illuminate your cancer risk.
Your health practitioner will do a simple examination (a Pap smear) that will screen for precancerous cells or cervical cancer. During the examination, your health practitioner will also perform a pelvic exam to identify health conditions such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis which can also cause irregular vaginal bleeding.
If your examination comes out all clear your doctor may suggest oral contraceptives to help regulate your menstrual cycle.
3. Check Your Armpits
What to look for: Any patches of dark or rough skin in your armpit.
This could mean:Unless you’ve overdone it with the spray tan, dark underarms can be a sign of diabetes. A buildup of melanin or skin pigment can be caused by an excess of insulin in your bloodstream. The excess insulin in your bloodstream causes the skin cells to multiply faster than normal causing dark underarms.
What should you do: All it takes is a simple blood test to find out if you have diabetes. In fact, diabetes affects more than 10.8% of American women aged 20 or older according to the American Diabetes Association. To be honest, anyone over the age of 40 should really consider having a test for diabetes, and if you are overweight this diabetes test really is a must.
4. Check Your Complexion
What to look for: Look out for think hair or sprouting pimples.
This could mean: This could be a problem with your hormones or it could be polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition can cause irregular periods, insulin resistance as well as an overproduction of male sex hormones which in turn can lead to the growth of thick hairs on your face, stomach, chest, thumbs, toes and back as well as oily, spotty, zitty skin.
These symptoms are also the same as puberty in young males. If it sounds like you have this problem, don’t be embarrassed because as many as 1 in 10 women at childbearing age have this problem (PCOS) according to the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause serious health problems such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even infertility so make sure you get yourself checked out.
What should you do: If this sounds like a problem you may have, take yourself to your healthcare practitioner for an evaluation. He or she will most likely perform a simple blood test, a pelvic exam as well as a vaginal ultrasound to diagnose the condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, some simple lifestyle changes combined with birth control pills can help to decrease your body’s levels of androgens (according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).
5. Check Your Eyelids
What to look for: If you notice small white or waxy lumps on your eyelids and they won’t go away no matter how much makeup remover you use.
This could mean: These small white or waxy lumps on your eyelids could be small deposits of cholesterol under your skin. The bad news is that by the time these lumps appear on your eyelids your cholesterol levels are probably 300 or more (cholesterol levels of under 200 are optimal). High cholesterol levels are not only clogging up your arteries but can put you at serious risk for heart disease, which kills roughly one in four women in the U.S. (according to the National Institutes of Health).
What should you do: You know your eyelids better than anyone else, so if you start to notice small white or waxy lumps on your eyelids it’s best to head on down to your doctor for a simple cholesterol check. In fact, by reducing your cholesterol levels by just 10% you can cut your heart disease risk by as much as a third, so ask your doctor about how you can reduce your cholesterol. If your high cholesterol is hereditary and cannot be managed by simple lifestyle changes your doctor may prescribe drugs to help bring your cholesterol numbers down.
Some simple lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, losing weight combined with eating a diet focused on vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and whole grains can all help reduce your cholesterol and heart disease risk.
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