96 chapter 5: Taking care of your body
Preventing common health problems
Because you know and understand your body better than anyone else does, you
can teach your family members, friends, and caregivers how they can best help
you. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask them for assistance if you have a problem.
Although it is not always possible to prevent illness, most health problems will not
become serious if they are treated early. If possible, try to get regular health exams
(see Chapter 6).
You can stay healthy and prevent infections by washing your body every day and
checking your skin regularly. If you sit or do not move very much for most of the
day, you must be extra careful to check your skin to make sure it
is healthy (see pages 114 to 117). Look for swelling, redness,
or other signs of infection. If you find scratches, cuts,
or sores, wash and cover or bandage them so they
do not get worse. You can use a mirror to help you
skin every day.
look at hard-to-see places. Many blind women
learn to check for sores or other warning signs by
smell or by touch.
Wash your hair regularly, and check it often for lice. Also check the skin on your
head for wounds or scabs. And try to wear clean clothes
every day, especially your underclothes and socks.
Some women with disabilities have to pay attention to
“minor” signs to tell when they have a health problem.
For example, a woman who has an infection in her womb
may not be able to feel pain from it. But she may notice an
unusual discharge or smell from her vagina. A blind woman
may not see that a cut is becoming a serious infection. But
she may be able to feel some pain and swelling.
Care of the feet and hands
A change in the smell of the
discharge from your vagina can
mean you have an infection.
If you do not have much feeling in your feet and hands, be careful to protect them.
Look for cuts and sores every day. It is easy to burn your feet or hands if you cannot
feel them. Or you may get a sore or cut without feeling it. If you find a sore or a cut,
keep it clean and covered until the injury has healed.
Protect the parts of your body that cannot feel heat or cold. Protect your hands
with thick gloves or a folded cloth while picking up anything hot. And if you live
where the weather gets very cold, cover your hands and feet to protect them.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007