Have you ever wondered why people should make an effort to stay updated with their family medical history? The real reason why knowing family healthy and medical history are important is that it lets you protect yourself from certain diseases by taking proper precautions wherever possible.
What is Family Medical History?
Family history is nothing but records of health-related information regarding an individual and his family members. This will cover data spanning across three generations of family members, including grandparents, siblings, children, parents, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins. It will give you an insight into health conditions and risks that your relatives may have either had, or been at risk of developing, that you are not likely to know about. These may be conditions like diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular ailments, neurological conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s, arthritis, depression or cancers.
Why is knowledge of Family Medical History so Important?
Knowing medical history of family members becomes imperative because families will share many things in common like genes, lifestyle habits, and environment. all these factors work together to provide you with insights on medical conditions that are likely to be prevalent in a specific family. If you can identify the patterns of disorders that have prevailed among your relatives, your doctor can determine whether you, your loved ones, or your future generations are at risk of developing certain conditions. For instance, family medical history will help you identify those members who are more prone to developing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or certain cancers. Besides, it will also warn you of risks of some rare health conditions that are triggered because of gene mutations like sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis.
Just because your family’s medical history highlights risks pertaining to certain diseases does not mean that you or your relatives will end up with the condition. At the same time, someone with no previous family medical history of a certain disorder can very well end up developing it. But, if you can know the risks beforehand, you can take steps to avoid it. For instance, if you are at greater risk of developing certain cancers, the doctor may recommend routine tests and screenings like colonoscopy or mammography from an earlier age. Besides, tweaking diets and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way in keeping risks at bay. For example, you can consider quitting smoking if you have had lung and heart diseases running in your family.
How can you get Family Health History?
To know this history, you have to first identify whose medical history will be of importance to you. To begin with, you must take into account the medical history of the immediate family members that are related by blood like children, parents, and siblings. Grandparents will fall into this group if they are alive and you can approach other blood relations like aunts and uncles for more information. Here are some things that you should get information about:
- Important medical issues that your closest family members may have been diagnosed with. Here of course, it is the genetic issues that are most important to know.
- Cause of death of relatives who have expired can give you clues about the conditions running in your family.
- You need to find at what age the condition had been diagnosed for your family members as this will help your family doctor to detect early onset in your case.
- Different ethnic backgrounds can have different risks for specific conditions. So, by identifying your ethnic background, you can identify those possible health risks.
- Just like genes, families will share common habits, environments, etc; so, understanding environment factors can play a key role in understanding how environment can affect your health.