Many people in their twenties tend to avoid appointments with their doctor and fail to carry out 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 health screenings are necessary for twenty- year-olds, the tests you need and frequency of testing depend on several factors. Some of these are family and medical history and so, you should consult your doctor for personalised advice on health testing.
Some tests are recommended for young adults, and many tests would be part of yearly visits to your GP for women. However, you can still ask for these tests to ensure that you get the necessary screening.
Below are vital screenings for people within 20s and some tests for people with specific risk factors.
Health Screenings for 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. This can lead to stroke and heart attack, both of which are life-threatening.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of death worldwide without showing any symptoms till 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 heart beats. 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. On the other hand, HDL is good cholesterol to remove excess cholesterol from arteries.
If you have excess LDL or little HDL in your bloodstream, cholesterol may combine with other substances in the body. This may form 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 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 HIV infection, so HIV test in 20s is essential, when you do not practice safe sex.
Health experts recommend at least one HIV testing between the ages of 13 – 64. People who share injection drug equipment and have unprotected sex need to do testing at least once every year.
Skin cancer check
Contrary to what 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 occur in skin areas like under your nails and areas that do not receive direct sunlight.
Although early detection of skin cancer aids 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 sun, family history of cancer, light skin tone should see a dermatologist. 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 diagnoses type 2 diabetes where blood sugar is too high due to 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 consider as 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 test 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 testing 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 testing 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 should also need to perform the test every year.
Regardless of age, men who have sex with men need to perform the test for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis every year.
For health screening tests, visit Privatedoctor.london or call 020 7183 2792 to schedule an appointment for your screening.