There’s a lot to think about in your 20s, and while we are busy worrying about our careers, our friends, and our love lives, it’s easy to forget about our health. However, there are a number of health warning signs to watch out for in your 20s. Even if you’re a healthy person and take care of yourself, you want to make sure you keep your eye out for any differences in your body that could signify a bigger issue. There’s no reason to become paranoid and freak yourself out, but it’s important to keep an eye on your health and how you’re feeling overall.
“Your 20s are a fun, exciting, and formative period, and the health habits that are cultivated during that time will likely stick with you for the rest of your adult life,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. “It is therefore critical to establish a strong foundation towards achieving great health at this early stage in your life. In your 20s, you must make your health a top priority and you really should never take it for granted during this time.”
To best keep an eye on your health and make sure you protect yourself for the future, you’ll want to look out for these eight health warning signs if you’re in your 20s.
“It should be routine practice to perform skin checks from head to toe,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “You should look for moles or lesions that stand out and have changed in size, color, or shape. Any suspicious looking moles or lesions warrants immediate evaluation by your doctor.”
“If you are experiencing headaches that are out of the ordinary — in that they are more severe and painful than you can handle —you should probably have it checked out,” says Dr. Mia Finkelston, A Board Certified Family Physician who sees patients via LiveHealth Online, over email. “This type of headache can be caused by an infection in the central nervous system or it can be caused by a hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain.”
Pelvic pain can be caused by a number of diseases and conditions, but for women, it’s especially important to pay attention to chronic pain because it could be related to your reproductive system, according to Mayo Clinic. Whether or not you’re thinking about children in your 20’s, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have anything going on in your ovaries or uterus.
“Twenty somethings may dismiss the feeling of being tired all the time and chalk it up to an active social life,” says Finkleston. “However, constant fatigue could be a sign of anemia.” It also could indicate a lack of physical activity, a poor diet, anxiety, depression and more, according to WebMD, so it’s important to see a doctor to get to the root of your problem.
“If you are sexually active and experience symptoms such as pain while urinating and abnormal vaginal discharge, you should get evaluated for a sexually transmitted disease,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “It is important to be diagnosed and treated early, since some STDs when left untreated may contribute to infertility issues in the future.”
Your breasts can fluctuate in size and even experience pain as a hormonal side effect, but you’ll want to pay more attention to any new lumps, swelling, redness, or nipple pain, which could be signs of breast cancer. Although the risk of breast cancer is low for women under 40, it’s important to know your breasts and be aware of any changes.
“Do you feel run down, exhausted, and depressed?” says Finkleston. “Is it difficult to swallow and do your fingertips and toes get cold all the time? These are some signed to look for that may indicate you have a thyroid condition.”
Even if you felt fine during your childhood and adolescence, many mental health symptoms can occur in your 20s, according to Banner Health. This can include anything from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. Symptoms vary, but they can include social withdrawal and lack of engagement with others, drastic mood swings, confused thoughts, and more.
Not all of these issues necessarily mean something is wrong, but it’s good to check up on them just in case. You might be thanking yourself down the line!
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