When you're a kid, you've got it easy. You have dedicated nap times. You can eat a Lunchables without judgment. And perhaps one of the most underrated perks is this: Your caregivers drive you to your appointments.
However, now that you're considered an adult (even though you may not feel like one), gone are the carefree days of not keeping track of your last physical or dental cleaning. You're in charge of your own well-being -- and it's important to keep tabs on each component in order to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Below are 13 pieces of health information you should be armed with now that you're older.
1. Your blood type.
Group A? Group O? An insight on your blood type means you have an insight into your health. Studies suggests certain groups may be linked to small increased risks for conditions like heart disease, Reader's Digest reported. Not only that, basic health information like your blood type is important to store in your noggin in case your health care provider ever needs to know.
2. What type of exercise you prefer.
Pilates? Soul Cycle? Yoga? It doesn't matter how you work out, what matters is that you're moving. Exercise not only promotes a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. Research suggests moving -- even if it's just going for a walk -- can lead to improved mood, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and more.
3. Your family medical history.
A roadmap of your genetic background is crucial information to have for yourself so you know what signs to look for in yourself. Did your grandmother have breast cancer? Did your uncle have a substance use disorder? Any knowledge is useful knowledge. This is especially true if you're seeking a new doctor. Health care providers will likely ask if there's a history of cancer, heart disease and mental health problems at your first appointment, so it's best to be prepared.
4. A basic understanding of your moles or pigmentation.
It's estimated that in 2015 there will be approximately 73,000 new cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, and rates are increasing in individuals under 40. A dermatologist can do a full body scan in order to map and make sure everything checks out normally. And the more familiar you are with your body, the more likely you are to notice and speak up when something changes.
5. What your breast tissue feels like.
Self examinations are the easiest way to catch breast cancer early. You should be regularly checking for lumps or anything that feels abnormal starting in your 20s, according to the American Cancer Society. (PSA: Both women and men should be looking for the warning signs as breast cancer can affect both genders.)
6. Your allergies.
You don't have to have a hardcore allergy to flare up when spring comes or when you take a bite of a new dish. There are different severity levels of allergies, which can range from mild to serious. Additionally, you can develop allergies later in life, so it's best to check in with your physician every so often to make sure your immune system is still okay with your roommate's cat or the outdoor pollen. Staying on top of which medications, foods and other triggers cause a reaction can be life saving.
7. What calms you down when you're stressed.
For some people it's going for a long run, for others it's calling their mom. What's best for you when you're stressed is also what's best for your wellness. Research suggests too much stress can lead to heart problems and other health conditions. Need some ideas? Check out this list of stress-relief tricks.
8. Your vitamin deficiencies.
You may feel fine, but your body may be in need of something. Deficiencies are no joke. For example, lack of iron could be a sign of anemia and too little vitamin D has been linked to mental health issues. Check with your doctor to make sure you're getting the recommended amount of vitamins, ideally through your diet. If not, a supplement may be right for you.
9. A good doctor.
Bedside manner is a crucial element in finding a physician you can trust. If you're getting bad vibes, it's best to find someone who is a better fit for you and who will make you feel the most comfortable (after all, the whole point is to go to the doctor, not avoid one). And this isn't just for general practitioners -- the same rules apply for therapists, gynecologists, dentists, you name it.
10. Your food sensitivities.
Being negatively affected by caffeine may sound like the worst fate in the world, but you should know how these types of components influence your well-being or behavior. This goes for alcohol, too. College (unfortunately) can't last forever -- it's time to understand your own limits.
11. A basic understanding of your health insurance.
HMO, copay, deductible... the terminology alone can make your head spin. Take time to immerse yourself in the basic rules and features of your health insurance plan. It'll make things a lot easier when you're looking for a physician, and less surprising when it's time to pay for your appointment.
12. What vaccines you've received.
Hopefully the answer is "all of them." A simple understanding of your previous vaccine history is not only important for you to know, but it's also crucial information for your health care provider so they know when to administer an original dosage or a booster. Illnesses like meningitis can be fatal to adults, but they're entirely preventable with a vaccine.
13. How much sleep your body needs.
At minimum, you should be getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but every body is different. And when you go to sleep also matters. Do you need to get into bed at 10 p.m. to make sure you're asleep by 11? Whatever works for you, do it.
Ultimately, you know how you operate better than anyone else. Being in tune with your own body and mind? Now that's adulthood.
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