18, May 2009
After years of being under-reported, breast cancer now gets the attention it deserves. But, breast cancer is not the only health issue women and their families need to know about.
Sue Mitra, M.D., who is board-certified in internal medicine and an outstanding primary care physician in Brevard County for more than a decade, identifies urinary incontinence, perimenopause, insulin resistance and osteoporosis as key health concerns that can be prevented with early action on the part of the patient.
A 13-year member and former president of the Brevard Indo-American Medical and Dental Association (BIMDA), Dr. Mitra says urinary incontinence affects more women than people realize. While there are a number of causes, there are also a number of solutions, such as specific exercises, acupuncture and good nutrition, that can help with bladder and even bowel control in women.
Perimenopause, meanwhile, is a hormonal imbalance that has symptoms such as irritability, irregular periods,
weight gain, menstrual migraines, fatigue and poor sleep. Dr. Mitra has found the most effective approach to relieve those symptoms is a deliberate diet, enjoyable exercise, rest relaxation and herbs and nutrients targeted to hormonal balance, as well as emotional support.
Insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and equally or even more problematic health conditions, centers around diet and exercise. Dr. Mitra tells her patients to seek out whole foods, fresh from source, food rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and nutrients.
Osteoporosis may be a serious health concern, but it’s also preventable, and in some cases, even reversible. Once again, diet and exercise are key, especially when supplemented with essential nutrients.
Here is a look at other issues women face.
As women grow older, there is a concern about dementia, depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Visa Srinivasan, M.D., the associate medical director of the East Florida Memory Clinic and a seven-year member of BIMDA, has treated patients with all of those issues and has an approach for dealing with each one.
Memory loss is a growing issue, particularly since Dr. Srinivasan says the fastest-growing population right now are those ages 85 and older. Dr. Srinivasan says people can have an adverse reaction to being told they are having memory issues because they associate memory with their intelligence. Her clinic offers free screenings at churches and senior centers so people won’t feel intimidated. If an abnormality shows up, they are then asked to come in for further testing.
“Many people think aging is associated with memory loss,” says Dr. Srinivasan. “So if I have an 85-year-old lady who comes to me with memory problems, she’ll say ‘What do you expect? I’m 85.’ “Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. And now we can identify memory loss at a much earlier stage so we can start planning for the future.”
Of course, there is no better prevention method than making sure you visit your dentist every six months.
Avanthi Kopuri, D.M.D. and daughter of current BIMDA president Rao Kopuri, B.D.S. highlights gum issues that can affect women, either as they start to get older or when they become pregnant. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience tender and swollen gums. However, that condition usually goes away after giving birth. “When women have major hormonal changes, such as pregnancies or menopause, it also affects your dental health,” says Dr. Avanthi Kopuri.
As people get older, their gums start to recede and there is already a lot of wear on teeth just from naturally using them on a daily basis. Women also have to be aware of dry mouth as they age, because it can lead to cavities. That’s why those checkups are important, to prevent gum disease. It’s also important to floss every day.
This is a topic anyone living in Florida has to be informed about, particularly since one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. In fact, while other cancer rates have been going down, melanoma rates have been increasing the past 30 years.
Melanoma is the most common kind of skin cancer in young people aged 25-29 and the rate is rising faster in 15-29 year-old women than it is in men.
Manisha Patel, M.D. is now an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, but grew up in Melbourne and is the daughter of former BIMDA president Jashbhai Patel. She points out sun exposure is the most preventable factor and recommends the use of a broad spectrum sun screen, protective clothing, avoiding peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and to seek shade, particularly if your shadow is shorter than you are.
Dr. Patel also warns about the risk of tanning beds as there have been at least seven studies showing a 75-percent increase in the risk of melanoma among patients who have been exposed to UV light from tanning beds.
For more information, contact: Dr. Sue Mitra at (321) 622-2222 or visit SueMitra.com; Dr. Visa Srinivasan at (321) 768-9575 or visit ECFMDC.org; Dr. Avanthi Kopuri at (321) 728-9999 in Melbourne, (321) 453-5833 on Merritt Island or CentralFloridaBraces.com. For more information on BIMDA, contact Glad Kurian at (321) 952-0853 or visit BIMDA.com.
Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.
Dr. Sue Mitra is board certified in international medicine. She is seen here with a Cologuard, which is a noninvasive colon cancer screening test. (Photo by: Tim Shortt/Florida Today)