If you are compiling a family health history be prepared to invest time, effort and patience into this task. Although it is a time consuming endeavor, the results of it will be worthwhile to you and your family for generations to come.
Why is Compiling a Family Health History Important?
You, like every other person on the planet, have inherited half of your genetic profile from each of your parents. A lot of people inherit some genes that increase their risk of getting certain illnesses. Once a family health history is compiled it will be easier to identify which diseases you are at risk of getting based on your genetics.
Family Health Issues That May Affect You
In an ideal situation your family history should contain at least three generations worth of medical information. Listed below are some illnesses that you may have a genetic predisposition to. These conditions should be included in your family heath history.
- Cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Mental illness, dementia and learning disabilities.
- Kidney disease.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Alcoholism and drug addiction.
- Fertility issues, birth defects and miscarriages.
- Poor vision or hearing.
Once a doctor has looked at and assessed the occurrences of the above medical conditions within your family history she will be able to do the following things to assess risk.
- Discover which illnesses have the potential to affect you based on your family medical history.
- Recommend treatments and advise of lifestyle changes that you can make in order to reduce your risk of disease.
- Determine what tests should be conducted in order to diagnose an illness. The doctor will also be able to determine how often these tests will need to be taken.
- If you are ill and the doctor is uncertain about what is wrong with you, your family health history may help doctors identify a condition that may not have been considered otherwise.
- The results may give the doctor clues if any other family members are at risk of developing a disease.
- If you are at risk of passing on conditions to your children, family history can help identify that.
How to Gather Data to Compile a Family Health History
The first place you should start when you are putting together your family history is yourself. You will need to record any health issues that you have had in your life and then move on to other people in your family. After this you should record the history of your immediate family and keep moving up the family tree one generation at a time.
For the relatives that are alive it will be easy enough to acquire this information. However, if your relatives are deceased some digging will be required. This may mean asking relatives that were close to the person in question as well as looking for documentation that may have relevant information. Documents to look for are health insurance applications, obituaries, baby books and the like.
Once you have finished putting together this information you will want to store it in a safe place so that it can be easily accessed.