By Meredith Schneider
When you’re 22, you’re invincible. You see the world with eyes filled with youthful vigor, while advances in medicine have led to a wealth of information made available at your fingertips. You can log on to the internet to view academic research papers, ads, and health information of all sorts just by clicking around.
This makes at-home care easier because options are mentioned, while pros and cons can be weighed without having to sit in stuffy waiting rooms and experience the sanitized halls of a doctor’s office.
Photo courtesy of Army Medicine.
However, some things are still best left in the hands of professionals. In this day and age, you’re probably still on your parents’ health insurance, so scheduling something as simple as your annual doctor’s appointment should be a breeze. It’s just one of those quick check-ups, so you’ll talk to Dr. So-And-So and be out of the office in no time, just like when you went in for physicals each year for high school sports.
But this time, it’s different. Dr. So-And-So asks you if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, and as a matter of fact, the answer is yes. Are you on any medication? Not at the moment.
Do you find yourself fatigued? Any pain in random areas?
Well, now that you think about it, your left side has been sore for a while. But that’s nothing because you’re 22 and it’s easy to fix. Then, Dr. So-And-So hands you a piece of paper, and explains to you that it’s time for you to see a specialist. The pain and fatigue happen to be reason for concern, except you were the last one who was concerned. Now, it’s time for the run-around of penciling in new appointments and filling out clipboards full of medical history and personal information for strangers who will make you wear a backless robe and ingest disgusting fluids.
Welcome to the real world.
If you are looking for a silver lining, it may be that it is time to realize you are not the only one who needs specialized medical care, even for someone so young. Plenty of people in their late teens and through their twenties are plagued with the daunting task of seeing specialists, and with the inconsistency of healthcare these days, it is okay to ask for help. According to American Medical News, it is important now more than ever to begin to see specialists for preventative care at a young age.
“Even if young adults are looking for medical care, it’s not automatic that a physician’s office will be the first place they go,” the site stresses. “42% of consumers age 18 to 24 prefer to use an independent company, or one owned by a pharmacy, rather than a traditional doctor’s office.”
Stress and changes in your environment—such as going to college, finding a new job, or different eating habits—can trigger some bizarre effects in the body, and it is important to seek help for concerns one might have with their help. General Practitioners aren’t always the best resource for specifics, so seeing a specialist can actually help reduce your chances of a misdiagnosis as well.
So before you Web MD your symptoms and try to self-diagnose, check out what the following five specialists might be able to do for you even in your young age.
According to News Medical, endocrinology is “a branch of Medicine that deals with endocrine glands, actions of hormones and their metabolic consequences.” Many people who are diagnosed with diabetes see an endocrinologist regularly, and you may be directly referred to one if you have a history of diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome in your family. It is also advised to look into endocrinology if you have an irregularity in appetite or blood sugar, abdominal pains, or are experiencing difficulties with your reproductive system.
Before you rule out an ultrasound because you know you can’t be pregnant (or you’re a man), take into consideration that sonogram machines can see inside you, not unlike an X-ray. According to Medline Plus, an ultrasound (or sonogram) employs “high-frequency sound waves to look at organs and structures inside the body. Health care professionals use them to view the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver and other organs.” So, not only is this machine used to update future parents on their pregnancies, but it can also detect things such as aneurysms, gallstones, cysts, and tumors, among many other ailments. Many prefer ultrasounds to many other methods because it is non-invasive. (The only real inconvenience is the cold temperature of the gel, but if you can pretend it’s a video game, it can be kind of fun.)
Here’s a specialist who is often regarded as uncomfortable to visit, but can work wonders for people experiencing a wide array of embarrassing problems. In dictionary terms, proctologists are medical professional(s) who specialize in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. If you are having digestive problems, abdominal pains, or other worsening symptoms regarding those areas, do not be too bashful to ask your doctor about it. The worst that can happen is you have to go in for a colonoscopy and a 90-year-old man named Kevin tells you he does not want to see you back in that waiting room until you’re 82. Heed his warnings.
You were a track star. You can run for days and never quit. But, for some reason, stress in life is causing shortness of breath and your chest feels like it’s caving in. For all matters of the lungs, it might be time to visit a pulmonologist. According to About.com, pulmonology “entails the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, conditions, and abnormalities of the lungs and cardio-pulmonary system.” Though, you may have had the lungs of a racehorse in years past, stress can affect all systems of the body, and the cardio-pulmonary system is not exempt from that. Ask your doctor about seeing a specialist if you have had uncharacteristic shortness of breath, chest pains, or other issues breathing. Be prepared to walk home with an inhaler or two as well, if need be. They’re back in style anyway.
Ben in your 7th grade science class was allergic to everything. Grass, cantaloupe, dust, nuts – you name it, he couldn’t be near it. Meanwhile, you were always the one with no allergies and not a care in the world. Then one day, you wake up with impaired breathing — or more simply, you develop a rash after eating a dessert. Do not just brush it aside. Ask your doctor if it is worth your concern, and if need be, go see an allergist. The ACAAI tells us “approximately 50 million Americans have asthma, hay fever or other allergy-related conditions.” Allergists and Pulmonologists may sound the same because of their analysis and treatment of asthma and other pulmonary-related conditions, but an allergist can test different kinds of allergens on your skin to pinpoint exactly what the issue is. It is not uncommon for people to develop allergies as they age, whether they are seasonal allergies that completely bust up your sinuses or a very serious allergic reaction to a specific object. Yes, like dust.
If you have any health issues you would like to examine further, always consult a physician. Just know that it is not uncommon for someone of a young age to see a specialist like any of the ones listed above among many others. It is important to not consider yourself being too proud to inquire about health issues. Finding out you had a broken ankle two weeks after you broke it when you were five was painful, but not too risky. This might be different, and these specialists are superheroes.