Your 20s are an interesting in-between time for your health. You’re not a kid going to yearly pediatrician visits with your parents, and you don’t necessarily feel unwell enough to make regular appointments like older adults do. Add in demanding jobs to an ultra-busy lifestyle, and it makes more sense why people sometims let annual health visits and checkups fall to the wayside by age 30.
Yet, yearly checkups and routine screenings matter as much in your young adult life as they do for kids and elderly adults.
What are the recommended medical tests by age 30?
There are many recommended medical tests by age 30. These health screening tests cover everything from your blood pressure to dental exams.
1. Blood pressure and cholesterol screening
Heart health matters at every age. Turning 30 is the perfect time to get serious about making sure that your cardiovascular system is in good shape. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults over the age of 20 get their blood pressure checked every two years and their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years.
While risk factors such as obesity or diabetes can put someone at a higher risk for high cholesterol, even people without those conditions can have high cholesterol according to Ann-Marie Navar, MD, Ph.D., a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Duke University. In other words, everyone needs to get checked, regardless of how you might perceive your heart health to be.
RELATED: Heart disease statistics
2. Skin check
At 30, you may be thinking of going to the dermatologist to talk about issues such as acne or even anti-aging products, but it’s important to add skin cancer screenings to that list as well.
Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Montgomery Dermatology recommends that everyone get annual skin cancer screenings starting at age 18. Most people wait till they are older to get skin cancer screenings, but skin cancer can affect individuals of any age.
“We try to encourage our patients to remember that according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the second most common diagnosed cancer in 15 to 19 years and the most common cancer in patients ages 25-29,” Dr. Ilyas says. “The most important thing to remember with skin cancer is that early diagnosis leads to better outcomes and smaller scars.”
3. HIV and STI screening
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all sexually active individuals between 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once a year regardless of risk factors. For individuals who have higher-risk sexual activity, it is recommended to test every three to six months for HIV.
If you are sexually active with new or multiple sex partners it’s important to also be tested for sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea every year—especially for women under the age of 25—says Savita Ginde, MD, a family medicine specialist in Boulder, Colorado. Screening for STIs can help you detect them earlier, which prevents a host of health issues from developing later on.
“If left untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can spread to your pelvis and infect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, which can lead to infertility,” Dr. Ginde says.
4. Colorectal cancer screening (if at increased risk)
A colorectal screening can be a rather uncomfortable experience that many people may shy away from. However, a colonoscopy can be an incredibly important test for men and women to do as healthcare providers use colorectal screenings for early detection of colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends finding out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer. Examples of risk factors include a family history of colon cancer, chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or smoking. If you’re not at higher risk, you can forego this test for now. If you are at increased risk, you’ll need to speak with your provider about when to start testing and how often.
5. Pelvic exam (for women)
Going to the gynecologist is important for women’s health, especially in their teen and adolescent years. “To maintain a healthy life, it’s important for women ages 21 and above to have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every three years [to screen] for cervical cancer,” Dr. Ginde explains. Recently, the American Cancer Society updated its guidance to recommend delaying cervical cancer screening until patients are 25 years old.
6. Eye exam
Eyeglass and contact lens wearers know the routine of a yearly eye exam. But even if your eyes are 20/20 and you have no risk factors for eye disease, the American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye and vision exam every two years between the ages of 18 and 39. If you haven’t done that before, 30 is a good time to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
“There could be early conditions that could be detected on an eye screening exam that could help prevent problems in the future,” says YunaRapoport, MD, MPH, an ophthalmologist at Manhattan Eye. “For example, you could be found to have enlarged optic nerves and be a glaucoma suspect, have retinal pigmentation, or have dry eyes. These are all treatable and preventable.”
Eyes are the window to the soul—but also health problems in other parts of your body. Eye exams can uncover other non-eye related health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or cancer.
7. Dental cleaning
A healthy smile is a happy smile, and the best way to maintain that is through consistent dental visits. The American Dental Association recommends that adults get exams at intervals determined by their dentist. For the average person, this usually means at least once a year.
Dental checks at 30 are so important because dentists and hygienists can examine your mouth for cavities or gum diseases that could cause severe oral health problems later on in life. A dental cleaning can also help screen for non-oral health conditions, such as diabetes. Maintaining optimal health is important for your overall well-being.
Prevention is important
During your 20s, you may like the picture of perfect health, but that’s not always the case. It’s important to stay on top of primary care visits and physical screenings to keep your immune system in peak condition and set up a strong foundation of lifelong health—and potentially catch the early onset of any conditions that could affect you down the line. That means preventive screenings, but also immunizations.
Often the vaccines we received as kids are not necessarily enough to last us a lifetime.There are vaccines and immunizations recommended for adults. Starting at the age of 19, the CDC recommends the following immunizations: flu vaccine, TdaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps rubella), and Varicella (VAR). Adults who are lacking vaccines can catch up, including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
It can sometimes seem hectic or hard to plan out doctor’s visits. Try and schedule visits around your birthday: If you line up appointments with every passing year, it will be easier to keep track and stick to the recommended schedule of appointments and screenings.
If finances are what’s prevent you from maintaining physical exams, you can always look for clinics that have discounts or sliding fee scale services. Additionally, you may qualify for care at a Federally Qualified Health Center. And don’t forget to use SingleCare for assistance in getting discounts on prescriptions if you need medication or treatment after completing your screenings!