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Women's Health Screening

You can screen yourself for possible medical problems by answering the following questions. Similar to the questions given at school physicals before clearing an athlete for participation in sports, the following list of questions is designed to identify disease or injury risks. A "yes" answer suggests that you discuss this with your primary care physician or health-care professional. You might also see a sports medicine doctor, especially if your problem is related to pain. If you have already seen a doctor in regards to the questions here, be sure you are following her recommendations as you continue your exercise or sports activity.

Do you have any pain that often limits your activity? YES NO
Do you have a pain that has come and gone for more than one week? YES NO
Do you have any muscle weakness that does not seem to get stronger? YES NO
Do you feel you tire out more easily than others? YES NO
Do you easily get short of breath? YES NO
Have you ever passed out during or after exercise? YES NO
Have you ever been told you have a heart murmur? YES NO
Do you ever feel chest pain? YES NO
Does your heart race or skip beats? YES NO
Has anyone in your family died from a heart condition before age 50? YES NO
Do you ever wheeze or have trouble catching your breath? YES NO
Do you cough a lot? YES NO
Do you get colds or sinus problems more than once every two months? YES NO
Have you recently had an illness lasting longer than one week? YES NO
Have you been in the hospital in the past year for an illness? YES NO
Have you ever had a sudden rash or hives? YES NO
Have you ever hit your head hard enough to pass out? YES NO
Do you ever feel light-headed or dizzy? YES NO
Do you suffer from daily or weekly headaches? YES NO
Have you ever had a seizure? YES NO
Have you ever lost your memory? YES NO
Do you have any loss of feeling anywhere? YES NO
Do you experience muscle cramps lasting more than five minutes? YES NO
Do you have trouble with diarrhea or constipation? YES NO
Have you ever had blood in your stool or urine? YES NO
Do you bruise easily? YES NO
Do you get cold easier than others and have trouble keeping warm? YES NO
Have you recently lost weight without trying? YES NO
Do you feel you have been urinating more than usual? YES NO
Do you have swelling of a joint or limb? YES NO
Have you had repeated sprains or fractures to the same area? YES NO
Have you had fractures that were not due to a fall or accident? YES NO
Have you ever had frostbite? YES NO
Have you ever passed out from heat or dehydration? YES NO

If you are diagnosed with a medical problem, you will probably still be allowed to exercise, but you might have some limitations or precautions. If you have any questions, make sure you ask your doctor specifically about the type of activity you are interested in, how often you will be doing it, at what level of competition, and for how long each exercise session will last. Some doctors are more knowledgeable than others with regard to exercise activity and risk factors; you might want to see a primary care sports medicine specialist (one who is a family practitioner, internist, or pediatrician). Some common medical problems and their associated limitations to exercise are outlined in the following chart.

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From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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