Shockingly Widespread Silent Diseases Affecting Women
There is a lot that comes with being a woman in the modern world, illnesses not least of all. Unfortunately many women suffer alone when their diseases are invisible or silent to an outside party. Even though people might shrug off these problems as no big deal or not as serious as more obvious afflictions, they’re all too real and oftentimes debilitating for the carrier. Below are some of the silent diseases affecting women every day, and they may be more common than you think.
As an invisible illness, fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose. Even if onlookers believe you’re healthy, you’ll be experiencing muscle pains all over your body without any apparent cause—and it can’t be blood or x-ray tested. The harsh reality of this disease is that 80 to 90 percent of diagnoses are for women, although men and children are also affected. Other symptoms can include cognitive problems and excessive menstrual pain, so it’s imperative for women to find doctors who are familiar with the disease to give them proper treatment.
Many women suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), and it tends to crop up in younger women. Its symptoms that can either go unnoticed or be mistaken for other conditions. Many recognize missed or irregular periods, as well as cysts around the reproductive system. Around 10 million women suffer the disease, and while the exact cause is unknown, it’s believed to hormonal. The sometimes erratic behavior of this disease can make navigating regular life difficult, including actually diagnosing it. It’s a common trend among silent illnesses to be mistakable for other diseases, but if you receive a diagnosis for polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormone treatments are common and usually effective.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS affects ten to fifteen percent of adults in the U.S., and women get twice as many diagnoses as men. There are typically four types of IBS, depending on what type of stool you produce and how often it occurs. They all often coincide with other gastrointestinal and emotional issues, like dyspepsia, chronic pelvic pain, and depression. It takes a series of tests to diagnose the disease, as the exact cause is unknown, and much of the treatment involves food and stress management. It’s a tough illness to have, but it typically doesn’t cause gastrointestinal damage.
Endometriosis is another silent illness with no known specific cause or cure, due in part to the lack of information on the female reproductive system. It manifests in the endometrium growing where it shouldn’t, resulting in lesions around the pelvic area (and sometimes in other parts of the body). An estimated 176 million women across the world have it, but numbers are believed to be higher based on unreported cases. The pain, infertility, and time wasted by endometriosis are neither normal nor good.
Many mental illnesses qualify as silent due to the nature of their symptoms, and depression is one of the most common. Not only are most of the people suffering depression women, but they’re twice as likely to develop it as men. It’s estimated that up to one in four women will experience major depression, and while the disorder faces fewer of the stigmas it did in the past, many people still dismiss or patronize the problems it causes. Sadness is a normal part of life, but when you’re experiencing it for two weeks or more at a time, it could be a sign of this devastating condition.
Silent diseases affect women differently than men and children, and that they aren’t immediately seen can make the issue worse. Cutting the stereotypes and stigmas will require education and understanding, and it’ll take some time. Until then, take care of your body and mind; don’t let your illness get the best of you.
Follow Mia on Twitter for more.