Do you know your family health history?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, nearly everyone in the United States thinks it’s important to know the history of their family’s health. A survey showed that 96% of Americans believe this to be true; however that same survey showed that only a third of Americans actually have their family health history documented.
96% of Americans aren’t wrong. It’s not only important for you to know your family health history, but it’s also important for your doctor to know your family health history. Knowing if there are any diseases or disorders in your family can help you make better health decisions and inform your doctor to watch for these conditions.
Many ailments are genetic. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are just a few health issues that tend to run in families. If your father or grandfather had diabetes, that means you’re at an increased risk of having diabetes. If your spouse’s father or grandfather had diabetes, your children are at an increased risk. You might not have any health issues that run in your family, but it’s worth finding out. Being aware of the risks lets you catch problems earlier, and that can be the key to effective treatment.
A good family health history documents 3 generations of your biological relatives. It should include things like health problems, diseases, cause of death, injuries, and the like. It might require a little digging to gather all of this information, but it’s certainly worth it.
There’s a great tool provided by the Surgeon General that can help you map out your family health history by documenting and organizing health information. It even lets you share this information with other family members or your physician.
Encourage your family members to visit their doctor and share their health information to keep your family health history accurate and up to date.