Many people in their twenties tend to avoid appointments with their doctor and fail to carryout health tests until they get older, but some screenings are essential regardless of how young you are.
Certain health screenings exist, especially those for health conditions that can cause serious harm without showing symptoms. These conditions include some sexually transmitted infections and high blood pressure.
Although some health screenings are necessary for twenty-something-year-olds, the tests you need and frequency of testing will depend on several factors like your family and medical history, so you have to consult your doctor for personalised advice on health testing.
Generally, a few tests are recommended for young adults, and many of these tests would be part of your yearly visits to your GP or gynaecologist, in the case of women. However, you can still ask for these tests to ensure that you get the necessary screening.
Below are vital health screenings for people within their 20s and some tests for people with specific risk factors within this age bracket.
Common Health Screening for People in Their 20s
Blood pressure screening
A high blood pressure result means that the force of blood from your heart to your arterial wall is constantly high. Having high blood pressure over a period can damage your arterial lining,leading to stroke and heart attack, both of which are life-threatening conditions.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of death worldwide, and it usually shows no symptoms until the damage has been done. This means it is vital to get your blood pressure checked even in your 20s.
High blood pressure screening is part of a routine check during a doctor’s appointment. The blood pressure reading has two numbers. The first, called systolic blood pressure, shows how much pressure your blood exerts on your artery walls when the heartbeats. The second, called diastolic blood pressure, shows the pressure on your artery walls when the heart is resting. If your blood pressure reading is greater than 130/80, you have high blood pressure.
Doctors recommend checking your blood pressure at least once every two years from the age of 20. If you have a high blood pressure reading, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing.
There are two types of cholesterol in the body – HDL and LDL. LDL is considered the bad cholesterol which contributes to the build-up of fat in the arteries, while HDL is the good cholesterol that helps to remove excess cholesterol from the arteries.
If you have excess LDL or little HDL in your bloodstream, cholesterol may combine with other substances in the body to form thick plaques inside your arteries, making them narrow and stiff. This increases the risk of developing a stroke and heart attack.
In some cases, high cholesterol results from genetics, but certain lifestyle factors like lack of exercise and smoking can also cause this condition. Like high blood pressure, you may not know you have high cholesterol because it shows no symptoms until a fatal condition arises. This makes cholesterol check important, especially if you have a family history of stroke or heart disease.
Medical experts recommend cholesterol checks every 4 – 6 years, from age 20, but people with a high risk of high cholesterol may need more frequent testing.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an STI that leads to AIDS when left untreated. Many people are living with HIV but remain unaware of the infection. Research shows that about one in seven people infected with HIV do not know they have the virus.
This means they are not getting the right treatment they need and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others. Anyone can get infected with HIV, so getting tested for HIV in your 20s is essential, especially when you do not practice safe sex.
Health experts recommend at least one HIV testing between the ages of 13 – 64, but people who share injection drug equipment and have unprotected sex need testing at least once every year.
Skin cancer check
Contrary to what most people think, skin cancer does not only affect older people who spent most of their years sunbathing. Melanoma also called the deadliest skin cancer, is the second most common cancer in women between 15 and 29.
Symptoms of skin cancer vary widely. It can show as a changing mole, fresh-coloured bump, or sore that won’t heal. These symptoms may also occur in unlikely skin areas like under your nails and areas that do not receive direct sunlight.
Although early detection of skin cancer aids a more successful treatment, the condition can be severe and life-threatening when detected late. Health experts recommend that everyone performs regular self-checks for signs of skin cancer.
People with risk factors like long-term exposure to the sun, family history of skin cancer, and those with a light skin tone may need to visit a dermatologist for a skin check. If you have a history of melanoma, ensure you get annual complete skin checks by a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can recommend how often you should have a skin check.
A1C test for type II diabetes
An AIC test measures the level of sugar in your blood over the last three months. This test can diagnose type 2 diabetes, a condition where the blood sugar is too high due to the underutilisation of insulin in the body. It can also identify prediabetes, a condition where the blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
Diabetes considerably increases the risk of other conditions like heart disease, and if left untreated, type II diabetes may lead to long-term health complications like nerve and eye damage. This makes getting tested for type II diabetes important for people in their 20s.
Experts recommend type II diabetes testing from age 45, but they advise younger adults to consider this testing under certain conditions. You may need to get tested if you have certain risk factors like having high blood pressure, being overweight or obese.
Other risk factors for early diabetes testing include polycystic ovarian syndrome in women, lack of physical activity, a first-degree relative with diabetes.
Pap smears check for abnormal cervical cell changes that may become cancerous, so it helps identify potential problems early. During the test, the doctor will use a small instrument to scrape the cervical cells, then send the cells to the laboratory for analysis.
In the past, doctors recommended Pap smears every year. Still, different studies proved that Pap smears testing once in a few years is as effective as annual testing. This has helped reduce the panic from having abnormal cell changes as cervical cell changes often return to normal on their own.
Experts now recommend that healthy patients between 21 – 29 get Pap smears every three years while people under 21 do not need to get tested because adolescents have a lower risk of cervical cancer, and cervical cell changes within this age return to normal after a while.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea tests
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by bacteria. Many people who get these STDs do not show symptoms, so getting tested is the only way to know if you have contracted any of them.
Health experts recommend annual chlamydia and gonorrhoea test for sexually active women below 25. Older women with certain risk factors like having multiple sex partners can also get tested every year.
Regardless of age, men who have sex with men need to get tested for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis every year.
For private health screening, visit here or call 020 7183 2792 to schedule an appointment for your screening.