Avoid crippling medical events, hospitalization, or death because you think you’re too young to have health problems. Knowing how fragile your health can be and what can strike early on will help you prevent more severe outcomes.
wiredhealthconference.com gathered essential information about 5 of the more common health issues that can severely affect young adults.
Medical Problems in Young Adults
Not so far in the past, young adults were thought to not suffer from “old-person’s health issues,” and most symptoms were simply shrugged off or downright ignored. Comments like “He’s too young for that” or “She’ll grow out of it” were commonplace until the medical field took notice of a growing number of young men and women developing more severe medical conditions.
The following are 5 common health problems that should be taken seriously and monitored regardless of age:
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in how the body regulates and utilizes sugar (glucose) as a fuel. This long-term (chronic) condition results in excess sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Eventually, high blood sugar can lead to severe disorders of the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can begin during childhood and continue into adulthood. Type 2 is more common in more mature adults, but the increase in children suffering from obesity has led to more cases of type 2 diabetes in younger people.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, you could be living with type 2 diabetes for several years and not be aware of it. When signs and symptoms are present, they may include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Frequent urination
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blurred or loss of sight
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections
- Numbness or tingling (neuropathy) in the hands or feet
- Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck
As of yet, there is no cure for type 2 diabetes. However, losing weight, eating well, and exercising can help you manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar, you may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
High Blood Pressure
Even if you’re a young (apparently healthy) adult, you aren’t too young to be adversely affected by high blood pressure (hypertension). In fact, almost half of adults over the age of 20 have elevated or high blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t present obvious symptoms, but that doesn’t give you a license to ignore it.
High blood pressure doesn’t usually manifest itself with detectable symptoms. In very rare cases, severely elevated high blood pressure can cause headaches, blurred vision, dizziness (vertigo), nosebleeds, a fluttering or racing heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting. If you know you have high blood pressure and any of these symptoms start, seek medical attention right away.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
- Keep your salt consumption below 1,500 mg/day.
- Exercise. Try to exercise for 90 minutes (minimum) every week.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Keep your alcohol intake to one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a man. Or just eliminate it altogether.
- Eat healthier. Diets low in saturated or trans fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Note: Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease, heart failure, renal failure, kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, among other life-threatening conditions in middle age.
According to data published by the Cleveland Clinic, an estimated 10% of strokes occur in people under age 50. Drug use and genetic conditions certainly account for some of the strokes seen in young adults.
Causes of Stroke in those under age 50:
- Congenital heart disease – Any conditions leading to heart abnormalities or irregular heart rhythms.
- Blood clotting disorders – Conditions increasing the tendency of platelets and/or red blood cells to clot while traveling through the body.
- Sickle cell disease – Deformed sickle cells can block arteries and vessels.
- Metabolic conditions – Narrowing of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain, high blood pressure, or abnormal cholesterol levels.
The risk factors for strokes in all age groups include:
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Abnormal heart structures. (inherited or acquired)
Tip: Medical staff can do volumes more early on. If you suspect that you are at risk of (or having) a stroke, remember that your quality of life depends on you quickly seeking help.
Colon & Rectal Cancer
Certain genetic conditions like Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis raise the risk of developing colorectal cancer at a young age.
Colon Cancer Symptoms in Young Adults
- Rectal bleeding and/or blood in the stool.
- Change in bowel movements that last more than 72 hours. Changes may include diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing (elongating) of the stool.
- Abdominal discomfort or pain.
- Continuous feeling of a coming bowel movement.
- Changes in the size or shape of stools.
- A new need for straining or exertion to evacuate stools.
- Weight loss without dieting.
- Fatigue or reduced exercise stamina compared to usual.
It is never too early to start making healthy lifestyle choices/changes to reduce your risk of colorectal and several other cancer types. Here are some basics to get you started:
- Be physically active. Try to exercise for 90 minutes (minimum) every week.
- Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
- Eat a plant-based diet.
- Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.
- If you smoke, STOP. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Tip: If your doctor thinks you should get a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer, do it. It’s a safe procedure, and getting a colonoscopy has vast benefits. It can help prevent cancer, and it can prevent your death.
Arthritis is a group of more than 100 known diseases causing chronic pain and joint inflammation. Most arthritis types, including osteoarthritis, are more frequent in middle-aged and older people. However, arthritis also occurs in young adults.
Arthritis symptoms vary depending on the type. Across arthritis types, though, the hallmark symptom is chronic pain, particularly in the joints.
Some other symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, tenderness, tension, or redness near a joint
- Reduced or limited mobility
- Fatigue (lack of energy) or weakness
1 – As of yet, there is no definitive cure for arthritis. Instead, treatment focuses on reducing the associated inflammation and pain management.
2 – Treatment depends on the type of arthritis a person develops. For example, drugs to reduce uric acid may help relieve gout pain. In general, however, treatment options include:
- Lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, maintaining moderate weight, eating a healthy and balanced diet).
- Anti-inflammatory and non-opioid medications.
- Exercise. Try to exercise for 90 minutes (minimum) every week.
Severe Health Problems for Young Adults
In this article, you discovered 5 common health issues becoming more prevalent among young adults.
Knowing how to detect and treat health issues early on can increase one’s health and quality of life as they age.
Ignoring the signs and symptoms of health problems in young adults can result in grave consequences, including hospitalization and death.