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This one's for the girls

Published: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 3:44 p.m. CDT

Managing a job, a family and a house inevitably leads to a lot of stress in a woman’s life. While men and women are both affected by stress, women’s bodies react differently to it. Recognizing signs of stress from your body is the first step to dealing with it and staying on top of your health. As a mom myself, I understand how balancing all parts of life can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes.

The American Institute of Stress says that 75 percent to 90 percent of visits to doctors are for stress-related problems. But catching stress-related problems early can prevent more serious health conditions. Here are some common signs of stress in women:

• Change in menstrual cycle – when a woman is under extreme stress, periods can become prolonged, irregular or even nonexistent.

• Upset stomach – stress can cause a lot of “tummy troubles” including cramps, bloating and nausea.

• Skin – under stress, women are prone to acne breakouts and rashes. Skin can also become dehydrated, making you more susceptible to allergic reactions and infections.

• Sleep – the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep is a common sign of stress that’s important to address since the body needs adequate sleep to help cope with a busy schedule.

• Hair – hormone changes resulting from stress often cause hair loss.

• Heart health – higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also be the result of stress, and can lead to heart disease.

• Immune system – under stress, it’s more difficult for a woman’s immune system to fight sickness and disease.

Please, if you experience any of these symptoms, take some time to schedule some stress-free time for yourself, or make an appointment with your physician to make sure there aren’t any other underlying conditions that could cause these problems.

And if you get a chance, make some time to visit Valley West’s This One’s For the Girls women’s health event on Feb. 23 – it’s a day full of stress-free fun, health screenings and reminders about why it’s so important to take care of ourselves. You can find out more about the event at valleyforthegirls.org.

Syeda Ali, MD, Family Practice

KishHealth Physician Group, Plano

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