What is common in Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Depression and Osteoporosis? These are diseases more prevalent in females; other than the diseases of female reproductive system which make up a large section (that’s the reason we have a different subject of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) there are some diseases which are predominantly found in females.
The statistics of diseases in females is overwhelming -
- Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 8% of the population, 78% of whom are women. Female/Male Ratios in some Autoimmune Diseases are:
DISEASE RATIO Hashimoto's disease 50:1 Systemic lupus erythematosus 9:1 Chronic active hepatitis 8:1 Graves' disease 7:1 Type I diabetes 2:1 Rheumatoid arthritis 4:1 Scleroderma 3:1 Myasthenia gravis 2:1 Multiple sclerosis 2:1
(From the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Michigan National Bank Building, 15475 Granot Ave, Detroit, MI 48205, (313) 371-8600.)
- A survey conducted by a study released by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that 68% of working women surveyed within the age group of 21 to 52 years were suffering from lifestyle diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer of women across the world - it kills more of them each year than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
- Unipolar depression, predicted to be the second leading cause of global disability burden by 2020, is twice as common in women.
These diseases are predominantly found in females; some have a link to female gene pattern, others to hormonal changes and some to female body structure while some are linked to the female psyche and lifestyle.
Now in all of the above factors, it is only the psyche and lifestyle which requires more attention as body structure and gene pattern cannot be changed while lifestyle and psyche can be.
Lifestyle diseases characterize those diseases whose occurrence is primarily based on the daily habits of people and are a result of an inappropriate relationship of people with their environment. The main factors contributing to lifestyle diseases include bad food habits, physical inactivity, wrong body posture, and disturbed biological clock. According to a survey conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOC-HAM), 68% of working women in the age bracket of 21-52 years were found to be afflicted with lifestyle ailments such as obesity, depression, chronic backache, diabetes and hypertension.
Women play multiple roles- specially working women who have to balance between work and home resulting in negligence of their own health. Tight deadlines, work pressures, social networking, travel, etc. are just some of the common reasons of an increase in lifestyle ailments like obesity, depression, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. Today women tend to give more importance to their careers rather than their own health. Work pressures lead them to eat more of junk food which leads to obesity and other health related issues. Lack of time forces them to get less amount and poor quality of sleep. A busy lifestyle results in lack of exercise and poor nutrition resulting in iron and calcium deficiency. Irritation and mental depression become a part of their lives which in turn badly affects the hormones that play a vital role in a woman’s body. Hormonal disturbances are increased with stress and then result in ovulation and polycystic ovarian diseases. The study 'Preventive Healthcare and Corporate Female Workforce' also said that long hours and working under strict deadlines cause up to 75% of working women to suffer from depression or general anxiety disorder, compared to women with lesser levels of psychological demand at work. The study cited scientific evidence that healthy diet and adequate physical activity - at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week - helped prevent NCDs.
Gender differences exist in patterns of help seeking for psychological disorder. Women are more likely to seek help from and disclose mental health problems to their primary health care physician while men are more likely to seek specialist mental health care and are the principal users of inpatient care.
There is a need to focus our attention on preventive health care. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, exposure to sunlight and pollutants are the main causes of obesity, malnutrition, hypertension and skin diseases. Excessive intake of alcohol, drug abuse, drug addiction, and internet addiction are also associated with the lifestyle diseases. Over indulgence or interest in internet may lead to internet addiction disorder (IAD), the most modern lifestyle disease. Ignorance about health care may have multiple implications on our health, behavior and attitude. Casual medication and poor compliance of medical advice add to the gravity of lifestyle diseases. Working couples in general and employed women in particular need to be health conscious to be healthy and more productive. They must have a time table with sufficient time for exercise, entertainment and grooming their health and beauty.
Brisk walking for 15 minutes daily may show promising results in obese, diabetics and hypertensive people as it improves blood circulation, removes lactic acid and uric acid, frees-up tight joints, relaxes the muscles, tones-up the body and removes blockages from the blood vessels. Brisk walking is also beneficial for maintaining good health and preventing lifestyle diseases. Some tips found to be beneficial for overcoming majority of lifestyle diseases are:
- Make a time table for daily activities with sufficient time for exercise and entertainment.
- Do brisk walking daily for 15 minutes or 10,000 steps or 2-3 kilometers.
- Practice meditation or Yoga for at least 30 minutes. A
- Avoid fried food stuffs and junk food. Avoid foods with preservatives and coloring agents
- Increase intake of fruits, salad, healthy and nutritious diet.
- Never skip a meal for efficiency and productivity.
- Have a good night sleep; also try to rest whenever your body demands it.
- Use proper seat and sit in a right posture at home and at workplace to avoid postural disorders like cervical sprain and backache.
- Periodic medical checkup.
- Follow medical advice if you have some health problem in addition to life style disorder.