Health One Family Medicine

Understanding Your Family History and How It Can Help You

Learning, understanding, and recording your family’s history can impact you significantly. It gives you a chance to select the stories you want to carry forward and remain a part of your identity. Some people want to learn about their past for sheer curiosity, while others might research to find out about their family’s medical history. Regardless of the reason, understanding your family history can enable you to learn more about how your roots can impact you or your future generations.

The Importance of Knowing Your Family’s Medical History

One of the popular reasons people research about their ancestry is to reduce the risk of developing health problems. Family members share genes, and one can’t change their genetic formation. While features like curly hair, athletic abilities, and dimples can run in the family, it is crucial to note that so can diseases. 

Knowing more about the health issues that your ancestors suffered from can help you stay alert, preventing the risk of your body developing any disease. Even though everyone has a different family medical history, some common diseases are passed down genetically from one generation to the other and may run in the family as it expands. These include:

  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Anemia

Note that there is no guarantee that any of these diseases will be passed down to you if they existed in your family. A person with no family disease history is also likely to develop any of these conditions. However, you are at a greater risk to these genetic diseases if they occur at an early age in your family (between 10 to 20 years), affect more than one close relative, do not target a specific gender (male breast cancer), or occur as a combination with other diseases (breast and ovarian cancer).

Connecting with Your Family

A great way to learn about your family history is to connect with your family. Understand your family\’s roots, traditions, and cultural practices, ask questions from your older relatives, be a part of social family gatherings, and look at death certificates and medical records of your deceased relatives.

Learning more about your family\’s history is a great way to connect with people in the past, present, and future. Here are some important things you should ask your family members about to learn about their medical history:

  • Causes of deaths of family members who have passed away
  • Major medical issues diagnosed in any family member as well as their age when diagnosed
  • Ethnic background as different ethnicities have different levels of health risks
  • Allergies that run in the family
  • History of birth defects and miscarriages

Final Thoughts

Now that you are aware of the importance of knowing your family history, share any important family medical history with your primary care physician. This will enable your doctor to assess your risk of developing a disease. Your doctor will also be able to recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent the risk of hereditary diseases. Doctors can also prescribe screening tests that will allow them to detect any genetic condition that you may have at an early stage.

If a certain disease runs in your family, we recommend contacting a physician right away for a checkup. Health One Family Medicine offers physical examinations and annual checkups. Call (469)262-5762 to make an appointment today or visit our website to book an online appointment.

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