Knowing your family health history is important for many reasons, from remaining aware of changes in your health over the years to keeping your children prepared. Though it is difficult at times, speaking with your loved ones about mental and physical illnesses that they and other family members have struggled with in the past helps you protect those you love today.
Your Physician’s Care Plan
Most of the time, when we discuss family health history, it’s happening in a doctor’s office at the beginning of an appointment. Nowadays, your family physician likely keeps a chart with your medical information and will continue to ask for your history to fill in the blanks or update with new changes.
Knowing your family health history allows a doctor to better understand what to look for when it comes to your health problems. Many illnesses are either hereditary or occur from a shared lifestyle with your family members. By looking for patterns in your symptoms and their diagnoses, your physician can create a more effective care plan for you moving forward.
Your Own Habits
Knowing the illnesses that your immediate family members struggle with can help you form healthy habits focused on prevention. If you have a family history of diabetes and heart disease, two common illnesses worldwide, you can start adapting your lifestyle early to focus on healthy eating and remaining active. Thus, understanding some of the early signs that your loved ones experienced before their diagnosis also allows you to prepare and potentially seek treatment earlier.
Your Children’s Futures
The importance of knowing family health history is perhaps most exemplified by its impact on your child’s health. Staying conscious of any disease patterns or hereditary issues that could affect your child in the future is only possible when you know what your family has dealt with in the past.
Even expecting parents can begin utilizing their family health history to prepare for a healthier future for their baby. Histories of blood diseases, like sickle cell anemia, are important to discuss during prenatal care visits. If a prenatal test reveals your baby has the disease, the delivery team can prepare, and you can begin considering options like cord blood banking to provide a medical resource in the future.
Family health histories are typically vague, but the more accurate and detailed they are, the more useful they are to your healthcare teams. Keeping track of allergies, illnesses, and even the medications used to treat them can all help you and your physicians hit the ground running and make the most informed, effective choices.