The Importance of Knowing Your Family Health HistoryConditions & Diagnosis, Nutrition | December 29, 2015
Our genes determine the color of our hair and eyes, whether we are tall or short, and even some of our mannerisms. Along with our looks and the way we act, we can also inherit a greater risk for developing certain diseases. This is why knowing your family health history is so crucial not only to staying healthy yourself, but also protecting your children and future generations to come.
Family History and Your Health
When you take the time to do a bit of research on your family medical history, you’ll be able to assess your risk for certain illnesses or chronic conditions. While it’s not possible to change our genes and whether we are more susceptible to diseases because of family history, once you know what you’re more at risk for you can start making necessary lifestyle changes to reduce some of that risk.
Knowing your family health history can also help determine if you should consider genetic testing for certain diseases. Plus, you might identify conditions that might not have been previously considered during a routine health evaluation. You might also be able to tell if other members of your family may also be at risk, and find out how likely it is that you passed on these risks to your children. Some of the most common conditions that are passed down through the generations are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and asthma.
Family Health History Research Tips
Documenting your family health history is an important project to tackle. While it’s not a sure prediction for your future, knowing the chances you might be more prone to some diseases can provide an opportunity for early prevention and leading a healthier lifestyle to reduce some of your risk.
If you’re wondering how to start researching your family health history, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Ask questions. The first step is to talk to your family members. Find out if they have any chronic conditions you should be aware of and ask about their lifestyle habits. You need to know if the way they lived their lives increased their risks. Were they smokers? Heavy drinkers? Did they exercise regularly? If they do have some diseases, find out how old they were when they were diagnosed.
- Document everything. Keep a notebook of your research findings. This way, you can share the information with other family members, too. Record things like your family members’ current ages, medical conditions and the age at which they were diagnosed.
- Share information with your doctor. Along with sharing your research with your family, you should also make a copy to give to your physician and other healthcare providers as needed. Your doctor can assess your risk for the same diseases and recommend changes to your lifestyle.
- Get screening tests. Based on your risk, your doctor may also recommend certain screening tests for early detection. These tests can help you start any necessary treatment plans as soon as possible.
- Pay close attention to your own health. At the very least, once you know what certain conditions are part of your family health history, pay attention to your own health and note any symptoms that start to seem out of the ordinary.
Knowing your family health history is key to your overall wellness and living a longer, healthier life.
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