The Importance of Knowing Your Family’s Medical History

It seems like whenever you go to the doctor’s office you are asked about your family’s medical history. This is for good reason. It may seem redundant to be answering these questions, but it is important for you and your care providers to be aware of what health issues are common in your family. Knowing the patterns of health issues in your family can help your provider with diagnosis of medical conditions you may have and can also help you to take measures to prevent getting diseases that commonly occur in your family.

medical-history-formIn the past couple of years I have been diagnosed with a couple of health issues, some of which have a tendency to “run in the family”. When asked if I have a family history of these conditions I quickly said no. No one ever outright told me they had these conditions so they must not, right? As I thought about it more I realized that I know very little about my family’s medical history. I know some of the health issues my grandparents had and what caused their deaths but nothing really about any other relatives. I decided it was time to find out.

My family has never been big on talking about their health issues so I wasn’t sure how it would go if I started to ask questions. I decided I would send out some emails and see what type of responses I got. It went well and I got a lot of questions answered. I am still in the process of gathering all of the information and mentally processing it. I was surprised to find that conditions that I didn’t think were common in my family actually are. I also discovered the conditions I have been diagnosed with are all mine, or at least no one else has owned up to having them! In the next couple of months I plan to create a document with all of this history and to share it with my family.

I encourage you to look into your family’s medical history. There are many resources out there to help. An article that I found very helpful called “Why is it important to know my family medical history?” also provides many resources as to how to go about gathering the information and what to do with it after. Having this knowledge can help you and other family members prevent some diseases and also get to know your family a little better.

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