6 Conditions single mums need to watch out for

Single mum conditions

Being a single parent is twice the work. You have to take care of yourself, your kids, and your home — all at the same time. And if that’s not hard enough, you also have to watch out for these six health conditions. 

Most of these conditions are common in women of childbearing age, which is why it’s important to be aware of their signs and symptoms. 

This will help you seek medical attention at the right time, giving you enough room to minimise (or even) reverse the damage these conditions can cause.

1. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. The symptoms tend to come and go, and they can range from mild to severe.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Headaches
  • Anaemia
  • Hair loss

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of other conditions. But with early diagnosis and treatment, you can manage your symptoms and live a relatively normal life.

2. Hyper- And Hypothyroidism

Thyroid disorders are common in women, especially during childbearing years. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can cause weight loss, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and hyperactive gut sounds as explained by The Centre for Gastrointestinal Health.

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, can cause weight gain, fatigue, and depression.

In addition, both hyper- and hypothyroidism can lead to menstrual abnormalities, which can be very troublesome to manage as a single mother.

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor so that they can run some tests. The most important initial diagnostic test for thyroid problems is serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Low TSH levels suggest a hyperactive thyroid, while high levels point towards an underactive gland.

Thyroid disorders are usually treated with medication, which can help regulate the thyroid and relieve symptoms. However, you might need to undergo radioiodine thyroid ablation, where the thyroid gland is destroyed using radioactive iodine.

In some patients, the thyroid gland has to be surgically removed, especially if it’s large and compressing the windpipe.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a common digestive disorder that affects around 10-15% of the population. It’s twice as common in women as it is in men, and it usually starts during the childbearing years.

IBS symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Diarrhoea or constipation (or both)
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Mucus in the stool

Unfortunately, doctors are still not sure about the cause of IBS. However, it’s believed to be a functional disorder, which means there’s nothing physically wrong with the intestines of IBS patients.

In addition, IBS seems to be closely related to stress and anxiety. In fact, one of the ways you can reduce IBS symptoms is to manage stress effectively.

If you have IBS, it’s important to eat a healthy diet and avoid trigger foods. Some common trigger foods include coffee, alcohol, dairy products, spicy food, and processed food.

Exercise can also help relieve symptoms, mainly because it reduces stress. If your symptoms are severe, you might need medication to help control them.

4. Essential Tremor (ET)

Essential tremor is a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking. It usually starts during adulthood, and it affects around 4% of the population.

The most common symptom of ET is shaking, which can affect any part of the body. The shaking is usually worse when you’re doing something with your hands, such as writing or eating.

The cause of ET is unknown, but it’s believed to be a genetic disorder. In some cases, it can be triggered by certain medications.

There is no cure for ET, but there are treatments that can help reduce the severity of symptoms. These include:

  • Medication: beta blockers and anticonvulsants
  • Thalatomy, where a part of the brain is removed
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

If you have ET, it’s important to see a doctor so that they can develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. With treatment, you can manage your symptoms and live a relatively normal life.

5. High Blood Pressure (Essential Hypertension)

Essential hypertension is the most common type of high blood pressure, and it usually starts during adulthood. It affects around 30-50% of the population.

The cause of essential hypertension is unknown, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.

Some of the risk factors for essential hypertension include:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High salt intake

As a single mom, it’s very likely that you experience high stress levels on a daily basis. This makes looking out of hypertension extremely important, especially if you have a family history of heart disease.

Unfortunately, hypertension doesn’t cause symptoms — it’s a silent condition. When symptoms do occur, they’re due to organ damage that hypertension causes. For example, your kidneys might start failing, causing symptoms.

This is why the only way to pick up hypertension is to ensure you get annual health check-ups, where your doctor will measure your blood pressure among other things.

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your physician will develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs. This might include lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. You might also need medication to help control your blood pressure.

6. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile. It affects around 200 million people worldwide, and it usually starts during adulthood.

The most common symptom of osteoporosis is bone fractures, which can occur even from minor falls or injuries.

The condition is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Being female
  • Increasing age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Small, thin body frame
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of exercise
  • A diet low in calcium

As a single mum, you might not have the time to exercise as much as you’d like. You might also be eating on the go, which can make it difficult to get the nutrients you need. This is why it’s important to be aware of osteoporosis and the risk factors for this condition.

For patients with osteoporosis, treatment focuses on preventing bone fractures and improving bone density. This might include:

  • Medication: bisphosphonates, denosumab, and teriparatide
  • Exercise
  • Dietary changes: eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Smoking cessation

If you think you might be at risk of osteoporosis, speak to your doctor. They can assess your risk and develop a treatment plan to prevent the condition from progressing.

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