By Dr. Tearani Williams, MD, TienaHealth
Make your child’s lunch and get him to school. Call your elderly parents to check on them. Put in a full day’s work at the office. Make dinner. Help with homework. Check your email and go to bed. Does this type of day sound familiar to you?
In today’s society, women have many roles, including wives, mothers, career women and caregivers. With so many responsibilities, we tend to be pulled in many directions and must find time to multi-task and accomplishment many things for the many people in our lives.
But the one item that tends to end up on the bottom of our list is taking care of us, even though this is vitally important to us AND to our loved ones. As women, we often selflessly put ourselves on the back burner while we take care of the needs of our family and jobs. It’s our instinct to put everyone else’s well-being—mental and physical—before our own well-being.
Just think for a minute, what would happen if you became ill? Who would schedule the kids’ appointments and homework? Who would get that important report done at work? Who would coordinate the out-of-town relatives who are scheduled to arrive? All the work you’ve done to make sure the lives of your family run smoothly could come to a screeching halt, or at least slow down to a mild state of chaos. This is why it is so important for women to put their own health first.
Unfortunately, most women check healthcare off their endless To-Do list when they get their annual Pap smear or mammogram. But taking care of your health doesn’t stop there. It’s also important to see your primary care physician on a regular basis to monitor other physical needs and changes as you get older. Below are just a few of the key screenings to request from your primary care physician.
1. Monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. This is the foundation of a healthy body. Any signs of high or low blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol could be key indicators to more serious conditions, like diabetes, potential stroke and heart disease. According to reports from the American Heart Association, one in three females suffer from cardiovascular disease, so it’s important to monitor this carefully.
2. Let your doctor know about subtle symptoms that you might have been ignoring, such as occasional chest or pelvic pain, palpitations or dizziness. These symptoms may be manifestations of a physical problem or may also be related to the stress of everyday life. Your primary care doctor can help you figure this out.
3. Check for bone loss, which can cause hip fractures. Most people know that osteoporosis is much more common in women than in men, but you might not be aware that you have osteoporosis until serious signs occur. Your doctor can help monitor your bone density and provide medications to help prevent severe bone loss.
4. Continue to get pelvic exams to monitor for vaginal or vulvar cancer. Of course, as women, we are always concerned about cervical cancer. But it’s also important to look for signs of abnormality that could indicate vaginal or vulvar cancer. Your physician can help you look for these signs.
5. Keep up with your colon cancer screenings. It’s important to remember that a screening checks for health problems before they cause symptoms. Once symptoms occur, you’re no longer taking a preventative approach to your health, but a reactive approach. Talk to your healthcare provider about when to begin screening for colon cancer, what tests to have, the benefits and harms of each test, and how often to schedule appointments.
When you make your next To Do list, be sure to write “Make an appointment with primary care physician” at the top of the page. Your physician can help you to stay in tip top shape whether you are still caring for others or just living the longest and best life possible. Your family and friends deserve the best—that is, the best of YOU.
Dr. Tearani Williams, MD, the newest physician to join Irving, Texas-based TienaHealth, is committed to helping women stay healthy so that they can be there for their children as they grow up. Her focus is on prevention through early detection and meticulous management of disease. She also specializes in the management of childhood obesity and empowering families to add years to their life and life to their years. Dr. Williams comes to TienaHealth from Pine Bluff, Arkansas where she served as Assistant Professor of Residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.