The best thing you can do for your kids is be informed. You need to know about your family medical history since it is a powerful tool for preventing disease and cancer diagnosis. In a recent survey from the Surgeon General, 96% of Americans agreed that knowing their family history is important, yet only one-third have actually gathered the information. As you learn what problems or diseases have affected generations before you, you can share that information with your doctor. In turn, your physician can work diligently to keep you healthy and potentially avoid the problems you are likely to inherit. The Surgeon General has stated that Thanksgiving Day is also National Family History Day. As you and your loved ones gather together, be sure you gather your immediate family’s medical history.
There are many diseases and health problems that are passed from generation to generation through genes–diseases such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, autoimmune diseases, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some cancers, including breast, ovarian, and colon cancer, also tend to run in families. Mental illness can also be hereditary and is crucial information for your doctor. If stroke affected someone in your family, especially at an early age, you need to make note of it and share that information with your doctor. A disease that only affects men is Klinefelter syndrome, which causes infertility. Rhett syndrome is found in more females than males. With Rhett syndrome, an abnormality in the X chromosome causes a regression in motor skill development for young babies. Genetic disorders passed on from parent to child include Down’s syndrome, sickle cell disease, and cystic fibrosis.
What Your Doctor Needs and Why
One physician described a family medical history as a “medical family tree.” So, as you put your family tree together, find out medical issues from both sides of your family and include parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandparents. The National Institutes of Health recommends going back three generations to determine the most common patterns. Gather information like current age, ethnic background, relationship, and sex. Note every medical issue and the age of diagnosis. You will also want to know the age and cause of death for your deceased family members. If a family member died suddenly and was otherwise in good health, you need to make sure your doctor is aware. If your doctor knows the medical problems commonly faced in your family, he or she will be able to predict the issues you are are likely to experience. With this prediction, you and your doctor can begin to take measures to prevent these issues, or in some cases, diagnose a problem early. Early detection often lends itself to a less severe form of the disease as well as an increased chance for successful treatment.
In some cases, your doctor may ask you to take immediate steps to protect you and your family from a future diagnosis. These steps may include a personalized prevention strategy, lifestyle changes, or an early screening for specific cancers or diseases. Your doctor may even determine a medical procedure or medication is necessary to protect you from an unwanted diagnosis. All in all, when you gather your family medical history and share that history with your doctor, you participate in the most effective form of screening.
Just because someone in your family was diagnosed with a certain disease does not mean it’s inevitable that you will too. However, your risk for those diseases increases if there is a family history. This is especially true for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Your awareness of diseases and health problems in your family can protect you and your children by providing the opportunity for early screening, diagnosis, and treatment. So, as you share a meal with your family on Thanksgiving Day, share your medical history. This valuable information may protect you and may change your family medical history for the better. And that is the best thing you can do for your kids.
If you have questions or concerns about your health or want to make lifestyle changes based on your medical history, make an appointment at NEW You Weight Loss. We’ll help you find a healthier you today.