Do you ever feel unsure about managing your health? Here are a few tips for empowering yourself through information, check-ups and support.
When it comes to health and wellbeing, it is important for everyone to feel empowered to look after their health proactively.
For women in particular, there could be several factors that can contribute to them not making their health a priority.
Sometimes fear and misunderstanding around health issues pose as barriers, and sometimes women may not know where to go for safe advice or what information to trust.
No matter the reason, it's time to make a change. Here are a few things that can help.
1. Look for reliable information
With 24/7 access to health information, it's easy to self-diagnose all manner of ails. But there are plenty of websites that don't offer the most reliable or helpful information.
An overload of information can make it hard to separate fact from fiction. It can also be hard to determine the true qualifications or experience of some 'experts'.
So, where's the best place to look?
When researching health, it's best to seek out reputable and credible sources. A few sources that are typically reliable include:
- Government funded sites such as healthdirect, which have a wealth of current information and advice, as well as links to additional, relevant health resources.
- Industry peak bodies
- Professional health associations
- Research institutions
If the health information is written within a blog or an article on a site, check out the author's qualifications. Are they qualified in the field in which they are discussing? Is it something that they specialise in?
For example, dietary advice, when written by an accredited practising dietitian or qualified nutritionist, is more likely to contain evidence-based information than if written by someone without a background in nutrition.
2. Get the most out of your health appointments
Seeing a health professional can sometimes feel intimidating for a variety of reasons. You may feel embarrassed, fearful, or like you're being silly.
One way to boost your confidence before an appointment is to know what to expect.
Searching credible online sources for advice can help alleviate any fears you may have and help you prepare to get the most out of your appointment.
So, what does that involve? A few tips include:1
- Prepare a list of questions that you might want to ask your health practitioner.
- Bring a list of any medications or supplements you’re currently taking.
- Be open and honest about you and your family's medical history, and be prepared to discuss smoking history, alcohol consumption, and past operations.
- Ask for clarification if you don't understand or are unsure of something. Alternatively, ask for some educational resources that you can read in your own time.
- Bring someone along if you think you might need support or help understanding or taking in information. If English isn’t your first language, you can also ask about options for getting an interpreter.
- Ask about costs. Understanding the costs associated with healthcare is important too and can help minimise 'bill shock'. Where possible, ask for an estimate of costs to work out if you're entitled to any rebates from your health fund or Medicare, or if any of the services are bulk billed.
- Feel free to seek a second opinion if you’re not sure, or uncomfortable in any way, or just want to discuss an issue further with another healthcare provider to help you make an informed decision.
3. Aim to be proactive with your health
A healthy lifestyle is key to promoting good health and wellbeing and serves as a preventative for certain diseases.
Getting enough physical activity a balanced diet maintaining a healthy weight and getting quality sleep are all important.2
Also, depending on your age and stage of life, there are other things you can do to look after your health.
For example, a few cancer screenings recommended by the government include:3
- Breast cancer screening. It’s recommended that women aged between 50 and 74 have a mammogram every two years to screen for breast cancer.4
- Bowel cancer screening. At the same age, it's recommended that women undertake a bowel screening test. This can be done in the privacy of your own home, and kits are sent out by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.5
- Cervical cancer screening. Cervical screening tests to detect and protect against cervical cancer should be done every five years, and this is recommended for women aged 25 to 74.6
Depending on your age and potential risk factors, some other regular tests that might be of benefit to help monitor the risk of developing heart disease and/or diabetes could include:2 3
- Cholesterol and lipid tests
- Blood pressure measurements
- Waist circumference measurement
- Blood glucose tests
Together we can 'choose to challenge' the things holding women back from taking care of themselves and instead empower them to make informed decisions about their health.
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1 healthdirect – How to get the most out of your doctor's appointment (2019)
2 Australian Government Department of Health – Managing chronic conditions (2020)
3 healthdirect – Health checks for women (2020)
4 Australian Government Department of Health – BreastScreen Australia Program
5 Australian Government Department of Health – National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
6 healthdirect – Cervical screening test (2020)