It’s important to get regular check-ups and screening for certain conditions, even if you feel healthy and have no worrying symptoms. Australian Medical Association Vice President, Dr Tony Bartone, identifies which tests to get during your 20s and why.
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol and blood sugar
- Skin abnormalities
- Pelvic and testicular exams
Blood pressure is measured using a quick and painless test. 120/80mmHg is considered ideal, while high readings can lead to problems for nearly every part of your body. “It can indicate risks associated with cardiovascular health, strokes, kidney wellbeing and circulation to your organs,” explains Dr Bartone.
Get it checked every two years unless your doctor recommends otherwise. “Depending on how high it is, it might be more often,” Dr Bartone says. “That is influenced by factors including your family history of high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks, and any other lifestyle choices that might be at play.”
A blood test can determine if you have dangerous levels of these. “Cholesterol and sugar levels are markers of metabolic health which can indicate diabetes or heart disease,” says Dr Bartone. Certain ethnic groups and those with a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk of these diseases. Your weight, waist measurement and Body Mass Index (BMI) should be reviewed routinely for the same reasons.
Obesity is on the rise in Australia and increases the incidence of several secondary complications later in life, including some cancers and sleep apnoea. Consider two-yearly checks, or as directed by your doctor. “It’s easier to reverse weight and cholesterol-related problems if you’re starting in your 20s,” Dr Bartone advises.
Put simply, regular skin checks reduce the chance of death from skin cancer. “We are really susceptible to skin changes caused by the damaging effects of the sun in Australia,” stresses Dr Bartone. Freckles, moles and blemishes which change in shape, colour or size should be monitored closely. Itching or pain are also causes for concern.
Conduct monthly head-to-toe self-examinations and get two-yearly medical checks, especially if you work or spend a lot of time outdoors. “It may be as often as yearly or twice yearly for some, depending on the climate they live in, their skin type and any pre-existing skin conditions,” Dr Bartone clarifies.
It is essential women are screened for cervical cancer and diseases which cause infertility. The recommended two-yearly Pap test will be replaced from 1 December, 2017 with a program involving a five-yearly human papillomavirus (HPV) test. “It’s the early irregularities picked up which are vital. Serious issues may then never eventuate and can be easily managed,” emphasizes Dr Bartone.
Testicular cancer should be equally on the radar of men. “Routinely check your testes for irregularities in appearance or feel. See your doctor for any concerns, otherwise get them examined two-yearly,” Dr Bartone says. It’s also a good idea for everyone to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and gonorrhea. “Get tested for STDs through urine or blood tests, especially if you’ve had more than one partner.”
Vaccines change from generation to generation, which is why it’s appropriate to review your immunisation history. “In particular, there are significant changes between those given to kids to 20-year-olds,” Dr Bartone reveals. “Get updated with new vaccinations and make sure any you’ve already had, have not waned.”
Young adults are also especially active in traveling to countries where certain diseases are prevalent. “Tetanus needs to be regularly visited. Adult measles is another where there is a worldwide variation in the level of potency,” says Dr Bartone. Pregnant women should also check with their doctor regarding influenza and whooping cough vaccines.
Test timings are recommended as general guidelines only. If you have a family history or are at high risk of a disease, get checked more frequently according to your doctor’s advice.
Live life to the fullest no matter what happens. Visit TAL for all your insurance needs.