Healthy Living From 19 to 34

19-34-health-package
Illustration by Newsweek

SEXUAL HEALTH

Talk to your doctor about whether you should get tested for STDs. The USPSTF recommends chlamydial screening for all sexually active women under 24, and the CDC recommends that adolescents and adults be routinely screened for HIV. If you're a woman and haven't already had a Pap smear, you should get your first at age 21, and then at least every three years thereafter until age 65, says the USPSTF.

NUTRITION

If you're a woman who could become pregnant, whether or not you're planning to, you should take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid per day, says the USPSTF.

HEART HEALTH

The USPSTF recommends that you get your blood pressure checked regularly. Also, talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked if you have risk factors for heart disease, such as if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, or if you smoke, or have a family history of the disease.

DEPRESSION

The USPSTF recommends that adults get screened for depression if proper treatment is available.

VACCINES

The ACIP recommends that all adults get a seasonal flu shot each year. Also make sure to get a booster shot for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years. Based on your immunization history and your risk for certain diseases, your doctor might recommend additional vaccines.

ORAL HEALTH

Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and go to the dentist regularly (usually every six months).

SECOND OPINION | HEALTH INSURANCE

Last year the number of uninsured young adults climbed to 19 million, accounting for approximately one third of the total uninsured population. Dubbed the "Invincibles," many of these 20- and 30-somethings don't buy costly health insurance because they believe they don't need it.

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But it turns out that the young aren't quite so invincible after all. In 2000 alone, six preventable deaths occurred each day among adults ages 25--34 due to lack of insurance. "These adults would have all lived if they had adequate health care," says Aaron Smith of the Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for the health-care interests of young adults. More than half of those between the ages of 20 and 29 are overweight or obese; 15 percent have at least one chronic health condition, such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or HIV; and nearly 10 percent suffer from major depression or an anxiety disorder. Young adults also have the highest rate of injury-related ER visits.

That adds up quickly. Treating a torn ACL costs about $9,000; a fractured rib, about $12,000. And a single hospitalization can run from $12,500 for asthma to $25,000 for diabetes. Even those who manage to avoid car accidents and chronic illnesses are not immune. A single wisdom-tooth extraction costs $400 on average; an appendix removal costs more than $20,000. And without an insurance company to do some negotiating, those prices can climb even higher. So even if you're young and healthy, not being insured is likely to cost you more in thelong run.

Research by Ian Yarett

Healthy Living: The Complete Package

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