Women's Health Terms Beginning with the Letter "O"
Do you weigh more than you should? If so, you're like the approximately two-thirds of American adults who are overweight. In the United States, being seriously overweight (obese) has reached epidemic proportions. One in three American adults is considered to be obese. And childhood obesity is at an all-time high.
Obesity involves having an abnormally high proportion of body fat. Doctors define obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
Obesity is more than a cosmetic concern. Being overfat puts you at greater risk of developing such serious health risks as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. The human body, with its 30 billion to 40 billion fat cells, can support some extra fat. Fat is important for storing energy and insulating the body, among other functions. But after a certain point, body fat can begin to interfere with your health. Ultimately, obesity can even be life-threatening.
The good news is that even a modest weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can bring health improvements. In many cases this can be accomplished by committing to eating healthier, exercising and changing behaviors. For those who don't respond to lifestyle changes, prescription medications and surgical techniques are available to enhance their weight-loss process.
With a positive attitude, you can lose weight. Yet, before pursuing any plan to take off excess weight, consult your doctor. Crash diets and other quick fixes can be dangerous to your health.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Do you wipe off the doorknobs in your home each time someone touches them? Or do you consistently go to great lengths to avoid walking on sidewalk cracks? Or, worried that you might cause a fire, do you repeatedly check to see that you've turned off the stove? Having feelings that you must perform rituals such as these over and over may indicate that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, your ritual behaviors may literally take over your life. You have distressing, unwanted thoughts or images that don't make sense to you. These thoughts or images keep coming back despite your efforts to resist them. You may strive to hide your condition from friends and co-workers for fear of being labeled crazy.
Doctors once believed that obsessive-compulsive disorder was a rare condition, but it's now known to be more common than other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. More than 3 million Americans have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder doesn't affect just adults. The disorder often begins during adolescence or early childhood. About one-third to one-half of adult cases begin in childhood.
Although there's no cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatments can help you get the disorder under control.
Oral and throat cancer
Recently, you've noticed a pale lump inside your mouth that doesn't seem to be healing. It's not like anything you've seen before. What you may have encountered is an early sign of oral or throat cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates more than 28,000 new cases of oral and throat (oropharyngeal) cancer occur annually in the United States. Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, mouth, tongue, gums and salivary glands. Throat cancer involves cancer of the part of the throat just behind the mouth. An estimated more than 7,000 Americans die of these cancers annually.
Periodic self-examination of your mouth is the best way to detect the early signs of oral cancer. And, when detected early, oral cancer is almost always successfully treated. Unfortunately, many oral and upper throat cancers are far advanced by the time a doctor is made aware of the situation. This is because oral and throat cancers are usually painless in their early stages.
Arthritis is one of the most common medical problems and the No. 1 cause of disability in America. The word arthritis is a blend of the Greek words arthron, for joint, and itis, for inflammation. In other words, arthritis literally means "joint inflammation." Although arthritis is often referred to as one disease, it's not. Arthritis has more than 100 forms.
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 21 million people in the United States. It's characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and may affect any joint in your body, including those in your fingers, hips, knees, lower back and feet. Initially it may strike only one joint. But if your fingers are affected, multiple hand joints may become arthritic.
There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments today are far ahead of what was available just a few years ago. In addition, how well you live with arthritis often depends on your actions and attitude. If you actively manage your arthritis, you may be able to gain control over your pain.
Your bones and joints, like nearly every part of your body, can fall prey to infection. Joint infections (septic or infectious arthritis) can damage cartilage and tissue within days. Bone infections, osteomyelitis (os-te-o-mi-uh-LI-tis), may fester for years and become debilitating if untreated.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other germs are the culprits in these types of infections. They originate from an infection or injury elsewhere in your body. The germs from those sites are carried to your bones or joints through the bloodstream. Alternatively, the germs may enter a bone or joint directly from trauma or a nearby infection. For example, a sinus infection can spread directly into neighboring bones.
Short-lived (acute) infections usually are treated and eliminated. When these infections don't go away with treatment, they can lead to a long-term (chronic) condition. Treatment can help control chronic infections, but the infections may reoccur or relapse.
Approximately two to five of every 10,000 people experience one of these diseases. They can afflict any bone or joint at any age.
In rare circumstances bone and joint infections can be fatal. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment — especially with the use of appropriate antibiotics, which attack bacterial infections — can help control or eliminate the infection.
Osteoporosis, which means "porous bones," causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that even mild stresses like bending over, lifting a vacuum cleaner or coughing can cause a fracture. In most cases, bones weaken when you have low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in your bones. Osteoporosis can also accompany endocrine disorders or result from excessive use of drugs such as corticosteroids.
In the United States, osteoporosis causes more than 1.5 million fractures every year — most of them in the spine, hip or wrist. And although it's often thought of as a women's disease, osteoporosis affects many men as well. About 8 million American women and 2 million American men have osteoporosis, and nearly 18 million more Americans may have low bone density. Even children aren't immune.
It's never too late — or too early — to do something about osteoporosis. Everyone can take steps to keep bones strong and healthy throughout life.
Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer occurs when cells grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal manner and produce tumors in one or both ovaries.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women. It's diagnosed in more than 25,000 women in the United States each year, and about 16,000 women die of the disease annually.
Your chances of surviving ovarian cancer are better if the cancer is found early. But because the disease is difficult to detect in its early stage, only about 29 percent of ovarian cancers are found before tumor growth has spread into tissues and organs beyond the ovaries. Most of the time, the disease has already advanced before it's diagnosed.
Until recently, doctors thought that early-stage ovarian cancer rarely produced any symptoms. But new evidence has shown that many women do have signs and symptoms before the disease has spread. Being aware of them may lead to earlier detection.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets within or on the surface of an ovary. The ovaries are two organs — each about the size and shape of an almond — located on each side of a woman's uterus. Eggs (ova) develop and mature in the ovaries and are released in monthly cycles during a woman's childbearing years.
Many women have ovarian cysts at some time during their lives. Most cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. The majority of cysts disappear without treatment within a few months.
However, cysts — especially those that have ruptured — sometimes produce serious symptoms that on rare occasions can be life-threatening. The best way to protect your health is to know the symptoms and types of cysts that may signal a more significant problem, and to schedule regular pelvic examinations.
Do you have trouble controlling when you urinate? Do you leak urine when you cough or sneeze? Do you suddenly need to go to the bathroom so badly that you're not sure you're going to make it in time — and sometimes you don't? Does a fear of wetting yourself and smelling of urine keep you from activities?
The loss of bladder control — urinary incontinence — is an all too common, often embarrassing and frustrating problem for as many as 13 million Americans. If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may count among them.
Although common, urinary incontinence isn't necessarily a normal part of aging or, in women, an inevitable consequence of childbirth or changes after menopause. It's a medical condition that can have many different causes, some relatively simple and temporary and others more involved and long term.
If you're having trouble with incontinence, don't hesitate to see your doctor. In many cases, incontinence can be eliminated. Even if it can't be completely eliminated, modern products and ways of managing urinary incontinence can ease your discomfort and inconvenience.