Staying healthy is not difficult, especially if you are willing to make minor adjustments to your regular routine. Health screenings are essential for maintaining one’s health. Make a resolution to schedule a health check-up once a year once you reach the age of 30. This is because health screenings can help a doctor recognise any ailment you might be suffering from and better manage it so that the prognosis is positive. This is especially true for women, who often neglect their health owing to a lack of time and energy.
“As people get more educated and empowered, preventive health care is becoming more popular,” says Dr Nandhini Elumalai, gynaecologist with Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani, Chennai. “Early detection gives you the best chance of getting proper treatment.” Further, since women have unique health needs, screenings for various issues are critical as it will help them maintain their overall well-being at every stage of their age. She adds, “Many patients have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the early stages, have been able to undergo breast-sparing surgery and have had an excellent prognosis. Talking about cervical cancer, it is the only cancer that takes 10 years’ time to get from the premalignant stage to a malignant stage. So, when a sexually-active woman undergoes a simple pap smear screening test annually, we can pick up everything from a simple inflammation to a HPV infection and pre-cancer stage and treat it early,” she says.
The main goal of prevention and health promotion is to reduce the burden of suffering from major preventable diseases. Clinical history, physical examinations and diagnostic tests are part of the check-up.
Here are a few tests that women should take every 10 years of their life, recommends Dr Farah Ingale, Director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi
Screening for cervical cancer through pap tests is highly recommended for women from a young age, starting from their twenties, regardless of sexual history. Cervical cancer screenings look for pre-cancers or changes in the cervix cells so that any signs of the disease are recognised and treated appropriately.
Iron deficiency or anaemia is quite common especially in pregnant women and new mothers. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath and unexplained fatigue, a blood test to check your iron levels is highly recommended. Do not take any dietary supplements without consulting a doctor.
Since the risk of breast cancer is relatively higher as a woman gets older, it is recommended that mammograms are done after the age of 40. If you have any symptoms of breast cancer or have a family history of the condition, you must get tested as early as possible.
Menopause is defined as 12 months without a period. Women must track their menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes and sexual dysfunction.
With age, bones and muscles undergo a lot of wear and tear. Also, as women have lower bone marrow density than men, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis, leading to fractures and other related complications. That is why women above the age of 60 must always get their bone density tested, especially if they have a family history.
Health screenings change as a woman grows older and the frequency needs to be increased. In addition, cholesterol levels should also be checked every year. Other health tests that women over 65 should sign up for include screenings for hearing and vision acuity, diabetes and heart health, as well as screening for depression.
The ‘Mecca of Medicine’, Fortis Hospital has enriched the lives of many Chennaites, and has earned a reputation of delivering world-class healthcare services at their modern facilities.