health

Common health issues you're likely to face and how to deal with them.

Terry White Chemists
Thanks to our brand partner, Terry White Chemists

Whether it’s an annoying cold or something more debilitating, there’s nothing worse than being knocked for six because of health problems. But there are some little things you can do to avoid them before they arise.

Here are the health issues affecting women, ranging from the common to the concerning, and what you can do to help prevent them.

Colds.

First up, one of the most common winter ailments – colds. Health Direct Australia says that adults are likely to get two to four colds a year with symptoms like coughing, a sore throat, sneezing and a blocked or runny nose. When it comes to prevention, good hygiene is your best bet. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your mouth and face and cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing. Regular exercise, good sleep and a healthy diet will also help your immune system in resisting a bug.

"When it comes to prevention, good hygiene is your best bet". Image: iStock.

Flu.

Influenza is a viral infection that brings fever, sore throat and muscle aches. The best source of prevention is getting a flu vaccine. Get the shot in early autumn from your local pharmacy to allow time for your immunity to strengthen in the lead up to flu season.

Urinary Tract Infections.

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that can occur anywhere within the urinary system: the urethra, the bladder or the kidneys. And boy it is painful. The most common cause of an infection is E. coli bacteria from the bowel making its way into the urinary tract. 50 per cent of Australian women have experienced one, with symptoms like: burning pain when urinating, the feeling of needing to pee but with nothing coming out and/or blood in your urine.

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To prevent UTIs, go to the toilet after sex and wipe from front to back. Cranberry based supplements can prevent E. coli bacteria from sticking to the cells lining the urinary tract. Once you have a UTI, always see a health care professional as symptoms can often escalate quickly.

Remember to always see a health care professional as symptoms can often escalate quickly. Image: iStock.

Cramps.

Going solely off anecdotal evidence here, cramping before and during periods is incredibly common for women. I’m yet to meet a woman who hasn’t experienced it. For some it’s more of a light annoyance, while for others it can be debilitating. Severe pain could be a symptom of an underlying medical problem such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. If this is the case for you, see your GP.

For milder cases, over the counter medications from your local pharmacy can help. And while most of us reach for the chocolate, a heat pack and the couch, limiting intake of fat, alcohol, caffeine, salt and sugar combined with a bit of exercise can also help relieve cramps.

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Iron deficiency.

Iron is critical in producing haemoglobin, a protein that helps red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency is a very common health problem, particularly among women.

Symptoms include: general fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath and dizziness. If you believe you might be low on iron, get tested by a health care professional. You’ll most likely be advised to increase iron rich food in your diet and iron supplements, which you can pick up at your local pharmacy. But try not to self-diagnose; there may be another cause for your symptoms.

Make sure to enough leafy greens and occasional red meat in your diet. Image: iStock.

Thrush.

Vaginal thrush is a common infection caused by an excess of Candida albicans yeast. Around 75 per cent of women will experience it in their life. Symptoms often include itching, burning, white discharge and stinging during urination. There are plenty of over the counter creams and tablets you can pick up at the pharmacy that can help reduce these symptoms. To prevent thrush in the future trying wiping from front to back and avoiding soaps or perfumes around your lady parts.

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Osteoporosis.

Women are at a far greater risk of developing osteoporosis because of a decline in oestrogen levels during menopause, but we should be taking action to maintain bone health throughout our lives. Osteoporosis Australia recommends regular exercise, adequate calcium intake and ensuring proper vitamin D levels. Speak to a health care professional if you’re worried.

Calcium is your best bet to having strong and durable bones. Image: iStock.

Anxiety.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia with an average of one in three women experiencing it in their lifetime. It’s more than just feeling stressed or worried now and again; it’s when those anxious feelings are ongoing and uncontrollable, without any particular reason or cause.

Beyond Blue says that for mild symptoms, health professionals might recommend lifestyle changes like incorporating regular exercise and other stress reduction techniques. Research shows that psychological therapies are the most effective treatment option but medical treatment may also be beneficial. Always consult with your GP if you think you might be suffering.

Do you suffer from any of these issues, if so, how do you cope?