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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit on February 21, 2023

5 Health Risks The Young Adult Faces Today

As a young adult, it's easy to think that serious health problems can't happen to you. However, you may be at risk for these 5 complications. Learn how to protect your health now - so they don't become a bigger problem as you get older.

Young adult min scaled

Being a young adult does not make you immune to serious health conditions! In fact, many young people are stressed and live hectic lifestyles while trying to navigate school, work, starting a family, and social obligations.

As a result, poor lifestyle habits ensue that may lead to diseases and compromised health. Does this sound like you? If so, this article can help.

Here are 5 health concerns young adults face today and how to overcome them using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other lifestyle changes.

1. Spinal Problems

A young woman slouching at her desk
Slouching while sitting at your desk for too long can lead to spinal and lumbar problems.

Clinical studies confirm that 80% of chronic diseases are related to spinal dislocation and spinal nerve compression.

Due to prolonged sitting at work, young adults have a high risk of developing cervical, lumbar, and spinal problems. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) lists cervical spine issues as one of the top ten diseases that affect our health. 

Office work often requires an employee to be deskbound for many hours, resulting in tired muscles or backaches. Sitting in uncomfortable positions increases pressure in the intervertebral disc. It also keeps the muscles in a state of uncoordinated stress for a long time.

Muscle ligaments will be stretched and strained, causing cervical and lumbar hyperplasia. In severe cases, overstretched nerve roots and arteries will lead to continuous discomfort and pain.

Tips to help support spinal health

For young adults who have very sedentary jobs, proper posture is important. Here are some tips you can try to maintain your posture:

  • Don’t stay seated for a long time.
  • Take frequent breaks to get up and stretch your body. Gently rotate your head and neck back and forth, then to the left and right, to release tension in your muscles.
  • Schedule a regular fitness session at least three times a week. Running, swimming, and other aerobic exercises can strengthen the lumbar region.
  • Yoga and pilates can also help improve your posture. If you can’t make it outdoors, try walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes.

2. Cardiovascular Disease

An obese man struggling to tie his shoes
Obesity can put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

It’s shocking that sudden death among younger people has been on the rise in recent years. Most of these deaths are related to cardiovascular diseases, an illness that we assume would only happen to older people.

There are four main types of cardiovascular diseases, including:

  • Coronary heart disease (angina or chest pain, heart attacks, and heart failure)
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aortic disease

How to keep cardiovascular disease at bay

Research shows that establishing and maintaining healthy habits, including eating well, being physically active, and abstaining from smoking, are the mainstays of cardiovascular disease prevention.

Research also notes that maintaining good cardiovascular health should begin early. Thus, young adults should start taking better care of their heart health right away instead of waiting until they are older.

A combination of TCM herbs like Mongolian milk vetch (huang qi), cattail pollen (pu huang), plantago seed (ze xie), and wormwood capillary (yin chen), can also help with reducing systolic blood pressure and in turn, assist in preventing cardiovascular disease.

3. High Blood Pressure

It’s a misconception that young adults are rarely diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension. 

Various factors cause hypertension. These include genetic predisposition, poor dietary habits, lack of physical activity, alcohol drinking, and psychological stress.

Tips to keep blood pressure in check

TCM treatment supports hypertension through oral herbal medications, acupuncture, cupping, or tuina massage – all of which can help reduce elevated blood pressure. It can also alleviate the patient’s discomfort due to the disease.

Firstly, cut down on salt, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, reduce alcohol consumption, and get enough sleep.

Stress is also a significant contributor, so it helps to take time out to relax. For example, take up yoga or meditation to calm the mind and foster a better sense of well-being.

Taking an herbal supplement to help reduce blood pressure levels can help maintain cardiovascular health if you are always on the go.

4. High Cholesterol In The Young Adult

No matter how old we are, diets high in trans fats can lead to high cholesterol levels. Excessive cholesterol in our bloodstream turns into cholesterol deposits on our artery walls, causing heart diseases.

Research shows that the younger someone is when they develop high cholesterol, the greater the risk of high cholesterol later in life. Thus, it’s best to keep our cholesterol at optimal levels early in life.

In addition, young adults who are careless with what they eat may be at higher risk of high cholesterol.

How to manage cholesterol levels

A group of young people practicing healthy eating habits
Practicing healthy eating habits at a young age can help reduce the risk of heart complications as you age.

You can start practicing healthy eating habits by consuming at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily.

Additionally, you can also consume TCM herbs to complement your daily diet. There are various herbs or food that exhibit cholesterol-lowering properties – for example:  

All these ingredients can be boiled or simmered with hot water and consumed as tea. However, before you try any herbal teas, it is advisable to consult a physician first.

Taking red yeast rice extract may also help lower cholesterol levels. This can be taken in supplement form.

5. Blood Sugar Problems In The Young Adult

A woman refusing a sugary beverage
Cutting out sugary beverages can help manage blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels go below or above the healthy range, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can occur.

When left untreated, unhealthy blood glucose levels can lead to diabetes, heart-related complications, and other serious diseases.

To keep blood sugar levels under control, ensure regular meals comprising important food groups, and limit sugar as well as processed and refined carbohydrates. At the same time, you can also regularly check your glucose levels using a simple blood glucose meter. 

TCM ways to manage blood sugar levels

In TCM, treatment for diabetes focuses on three categories of symptoms:

Upper

  • Symptoms: Excessive thirst, dry mouth, irritability, a red tongue with a thin yellow coating, and rapid pulse.
  • Herbal treatment: Coptis chinesis (huang lian), Ophiopogon japonicas (mai dong), and Radix rehmannia (sheng di huang).

Middle

  • Symptoms: Excessive hunger, bad breath, weight loss, frequent oral ulcers, excessive thirst and urine output, constipation with dry stools, a red tongue with a yellow coating, and a strong rapid pulse.
  • Herbal formula: Gypsum fibrosum (shi gao), Rhizoma anemarrhenae (zhi mu), and Gardenia jasminoides (zhi zi).

Lower

  • Symptoms: Excessive turbid urination, lower lumbar pain and weakness in the knees, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dry lips, dry and itchy skin, a red tongue with little or no coating, and a thin and rapid pulse.
  • Herbal formula: Six-flavor Rehmannia Pills, made with schisandra (wu wei zi), Chinese yam (shan yao), and wolfberries or goji berries (gou qi zi). 

For those concerned about weight issues or with early signs of diabetes, there are herbal supplements available to help manage glucose levels.

Maintain Your Health Now As A Young Adult

Apart from the diseases listed above, there are many more health problems that afflict young people today. Therefore, if you notice any unusual symptoms or discomfort, visit your doctor immediately. Additionally, it’s ideal to do regular health screenings for early prevention of these conditions.

This is an adaptation of an article that first appeared on the Health 123 website.

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