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Live A Healthier Life! 9 Health Problems To Be Aware Of In Your 20s

Vivian KELLY
by Vivian KELLY Published on October 10, 2014

Being young, healthy and fit is ideal but not exactly a reality. From painful periods to achy feet and loose bowels, thousands of young adults suffer from these common symptoms. But could they mean something serious? You should never write something off as a 'one time thing.' Check out these 9 health problems every 20-something should be aware of before it's too late!

Being young comes with its benefits, yeah. Overall, we're healthier and fitter than our middle-aged counterparts BUT that doesn't mean we're never going to have to see our doctors for more than a routine check-up.

From what we wear, how much we exercise, and what we eat - ​our everyday habits have an affect on what conditions we're at risk of developing. And with "work hard, play hard" lifestyles there's no doubt that many of us will suffer from something at some point in the future.

That said, suffering in silence is NOT an option. From cervical cancer, tension-type headaches to Crohn's Disease, here are 9 health problems (in no particular order) that you need to know about NOW.

1. Endometriosis

If you often experience crippling period pangs or sharp achy pain in your abdomen it could be more than just a period from hell. Endometriosis is a common condition that affects approximately 5 million women in the U.S. Yet, for some reason it's not widely known about. Never heard of it? We got ya covered...

​Endometriosis is a condition where "the lining (that is supposed to be inside the uterus) is found outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells, [or] the uterine lining, are shed every month during menstruation so endometriosis is more likely to affect women during their child bearing years (19-26 years old)," explains Dr. Venkat from Harley Street Fertility Clinic in London.

The most common symptoms to look out for are painful or heavy periods, pain in the abdomen, pelvis and back pain, pain during and after sex, infertility and fatigue. If swelling builds around your lower abdomen or grows around your bladder it could lead to pain during urination or even bowel movements so make sure to take note!

Endometriosis is hard on the body. It can affect your social life, intimacy, and relationships, so don't brush off your symptoms! If you suspect you may be suffering from the condition visit your doctor today. He or she will be able to take the appropriate steps in order to make a proper diagnosis and treatment.

2. Tension-Type Headaches

Suffer from frequent nagging headaches? There are a lot of reasons why you might get a throbbing head. Stress, a lack of sleep, skipping a meal (naughty), dehydration...these are all things we're guilty of at this young, but more often than not, people don't realize how much it can affect your health.

Six Physio's physiotherapist, Hayley Jasper says, "Tension-Type Headaches are the most common type of headaches and are experienced by approximately HALF of adults.

"​They feel like a constant band of tightness or aching on both sides of the head but does not cause vomiting or sensitivity to light."

Generally, headaches are pretty normal but if you're suffering from them several times a week or the pain is very severe it's best to consult a doctor to eliminate other causes for your headache. Be aware of how you feel!

3. Back pain

Sore and stiff? If your workday consists of hunching over a computer Every. Single. Day. Then you've probably faced some back pain at some point. As common as sitting for eight hours a day has become, it's crucial to take note of th effects. Hunched shoulders and poor posture can affect your health in more ways than you can imagine, causing a forward head, rounded shoulders, and even a hunchback. No, thank you!

Hayley says, "Staying in one position can cause excessive strain on the respective spinal structures, often causing pain. Exercising and going to the gym can help prevent pain arising as it improves core strength and reduces the muscular imbalance of sedentary activities."

Fix your posture and ease your back pain by practicing yoga, getting plenty of sleep, doing light exercises and using hot and cold therapy. If you're really struggling, consult your doctor for further testing. If necessary, your doctor will be able to prescribe painkillers or refer you to a psychical therapist. The earlier you spot it, the better the outcome. Remember it's all about prevention here.

4. Injuries from high intensity workouts

The high intensity work-out trend has swept the country this year (or the world for that matter) with people taking up exercises in High intensity Interval Training (HIIT), boot camps and indoor cycling. While this type of exercise is excellent for burning fat fast and getting our metabolisms revved up it can also cause some unwanted trouble.

Hayley says, "We've seen a lot of people trying high intensity work-outs that they find online or in an exercise DVD. They start with little to no baseline fitness or flexibility which can inhibit them from doing the exercises properly and lead to injury.

Also inadequate recovery time which is common among amateurs can cause extreme fatigue and often comes with painful injuries.

"​In particular, we see serious knee injuries caused by weak glutes, pelvic muscles or a lack of flexibility. Not being able to maintain knee alignment in a squat or lunge so the knee rotates is a simple sign that you may be need to improve your strength and flexibility."

So if you're about to start a high intensity program make sure to build up your endurance at least one month before. This way you'll be in good shape when you start. Also make sure to practice your form. If you're unsure, get advice from a qualified instructor. Better safe than sorry.

5. Back & feet injuries

Take heart, you're not alone - most of us girls struggle with this! And even though we'd love to point the finger at our new pair of 4-inch Jimmy Choos for our aches and pains, they're not always to blame. A bit of knowledge about biomechanics (yup, we're getting technical) is all you need to survive those late nights...

"The most common causes of ache and pains in feet and back include lack of flexibility in toe joints, weak small muscles in the foot and the shift in the centre of gravity forwards at the hips, which puts extra pressure on the lower vertebra of the spine", says Hayley.

"​But there are exercises you can do to strengthen and increase the flexibility of your feet, as well as, improve posture to achieve the perfect ‘heel strike’". You might feel like an old lady but once you get your strengths right you'll be rocking those pumps than never before.

Another problem to consider: According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, women who often wear high heels (two inches or more and more than five days a week) are at risk of their calf muscles shrinking and tendons thickening, which can make it uncomfortable to wear flat shoes and flip flops!

Sprains, bunions, shrinking calf muscles, lower back pain - these are only a few of the consequences we might have to face. The key here? Strengthen your toesies and switch up your footwear (moderation is key).

6. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn's Disease can be tricky to spot because it has similar symptoms to other health problems. But for 20-somethings in particular, it's a condition in which we NEED to educate ourselves on. Here's what you need to know...

"Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the bowel from the mouth to the anus. Its prevalence is 30-50 cases per 100,000 people and the peak age is between 15 – 30 years of age," says Mr Colin Elton, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital.

This is why it's so important for young people to be aware of its symptoms​ so you can get to the bottom of your health issues quickly and effectively.

"​Symptoms of this disease include intermittent episodes of cramping abdominal pain, loose watery bowel motions, weight loss and sometimes blood in stools."

Sadly, there is no treatment for this condition, but there are plenty of ways to ease the inflammation. If you have any of these symptoms and they're consistent, visit your doctor for further examination. They will be able to refer you to the hospital to then see a bowel specialist to make a diagnosis.

7. Cervical Cancer

Dr. John Green, consultant in medical oncology and specialist in gynecological cancers at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre says, "Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix and is the most common cancer" seen in women in the U.S.

But keep in mind, if you catch it early, your outlook is good. According to Dr. Green younger women diagnosed with the disease have almost a 90 percent survival rate (five years or more after receiving the diagnosis ) compared with just over 66 per cent of older females. So tackling it early is key.

The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). But don't worry, there are more than 100 different types of HPV, most of them which are not harmful. However, if you do contract the virus it can disrupt the normal functioning of the cell's cervix triggering the onset of cancer.

The main symptoms of cervical cancer include, unusual bleeding and spotting after sex or in-between periods, pain during sex and smelly vaginal discharge. If you have irregular periods for more than one cycle or unusual pelvic pain during or after sex go to your GP to get assessed.

8. Depression

Life is anything but easy when you're young - unemployment, debts, exams, boyfriends - there's A LOT to put up with. And it's becoming more and more apparent. According to the Center for Disease Control, "approximately 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression.

Coalition Co-ordinator at Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, Paula Lavis says, "There are a number of reasons why a young person becomes depressed. The move from childhood to adulthood can be difficult for many young adults.

"​This is made increasingly difficult as they may have difficulties finding a job, being able to afford their own home, the stresses of higher education, and so on. Some young people, such as those who were brought up in care can’t fall back on their families during this time, so for them it may be even harder."

And with 1 in 10 people becoming depressed at some point in their lives it is essential that young adults seek help before it becomes chronic and enduring. Signs and symptoms to look out for include, tiredness and loss of energy, sadness that doesn't go away, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, poor concentration, anxiousness, avoiding other people and close friends, loss of appetite and more seriously, self harm.

But remember, these symptoms are NOT ​conclusive. If you've been feeling blue and you're not sure why visit your doctor who will be more than happy to talk this through with you. It might also help to speak to your family, partner or friends, as depression is often hard to come to terms with and not always an easy condition to confront. The first step of beating depression is recognizing it. You're not alone.

9. Heart Disease

Imagining someone dying from a cardiac arrest in their 20s is a frightening thought. However, the truth is, sudden cardiac death in young people is more common than you'd think.

In 80% of young sudden deaths there are NO prior symptoms which is why it's so important to be aware of the symptoms and act before it's too late.

Dr Steve Cox, Deputy Chief Executive of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), says, "Young sudden cardiac death is caused by many different conditions not all of which are genetic. Our pioneering screening programme currently tests around 15,000 young people every year and about one in every 300 people we test has a potentially life threatening condition identified.

In the past 20 years, "CRY believes there have been around 10,000 sudden deaths of young people, aged 35 and under. But with more access to screening and research into the causes of these devastating conditions, we will be able to prevent these tragedies.”

Take action now and prevent this from happening to you or a loved one.

Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain during or after exercise, breathlessness, palpitations, dizziness and fainting. If you suffer from any of these symptoms go to your doc. Sure, it's probably a one off, but if any of these are common for you it's best to be safe.

Feeling more aware and better prepared? Tweet us @wewomenUSA!

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by Vivian KELLY