Knowing and acting on your family health history is an essential part of protecting your health. What is a family health history? Your family health history is a record of yours and your family’s medical history used in helping physicians determine health conditions that you may be susceptible to. Collect your family health history and share it with a member of our Balanced Well-Being Healthcare team at your next visit to help with your preventive care. We use your family health history to develop a more complete picture of your health and your risk factors for disease. Together we can reduce your risk for developing chronic disease or conditions.
What Is A Health History?
Anytime you visit a new doctor’s office, you will be asked to provide your family health history or medical history. For those struggling with debilitating disease or unknown illnesses, it’s essential that the physician you are visiting has your medical history on file to properly diagnose and treat your symptoms. “Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions in your family. You and your family members share genes. You may also have behaviors in common, such as exercise habits and what you like to eat. You may live in the same area and come in contact with similar things in the environment. Family history includes all of these factors, any of which can affect your health, “ the CDC says. Whenever you meet with your medical provider, their goal is to help you identify what has triggered your symptoms and current state of health. A family health history provides important information to your doctor about medical conditions you’re at risk for developing in relation to what your siblings, parents, grandparents, etc. have had during their lifetimes. Among other things, your doctor might use your medical history to:
- Recommend changes in your diet to avoid certain health risks
- Recommend medications and/or treatments to reduce the risk of disease
- Determine whether you or a family member should receive genetic testing
- Assess your risk of passing certain genes onto your children
- Identify other family members who are at risk for developing a certain disease
How To Gather Your Family Health History
While you may know some of your family’s health history, like your father’s heart condition or your grandmother’s fight with breast cancer, there are other conditions and diseases that may not appear in your family tree but still be present. One of the best ways to find out more about your family is through family functions, such as a birthday party or family reunion. Whenever the next one rolls around, try talking with as many of your relatives as you can about their health history. Keep in mind that some health issues are private or can be embarrassing, so make sure to be as tactful and respectful as possible. Additionally, thanks to the ever-developing world of technology, the U.S. Surgeon General has created a computerized tool called “My Family Health Portrait” to help individuals across the country identify family health concerns and compile them into one record. If you want to keep it old school, you can just use a paper or computer file to manage your records, whichever way is easiest for you.
For those who are adopted, compiling your medical history can get tricky. Speak with your adoptive parents about any medical history they might have been given about your biological parents before your adoption. If there isn’t enough information there, consider speaking with the adoptive agency that your parents went through to see if any medical information is on file. If you were adopted through an open-adoption agency, you might be lucky enough to discuss any health concerns directly with members of your biological family, if you so choose. Even if you are unsure about a medical concern that could have been present in your family’s history but was never diagnosed, don’t make any guesses as to what it could be. An incorrect guess on your medical history can make determining what issue you are struggling with much more difficult and lead to misinterpretation. Don’t worry if some small details are missing; include what you know about your health history, and you and your physician can go from there.
Improve Your Health With Functional Medicine
Whether you are at high or low-risk for a certain disease or condition, it is important to regularly see your physician for an evaluation and health screening. For more evaluative care, consider scheduling a functional medicine visit. This type of visit involves a comprehensive evaluation of antecedents, triggers and mediators of disease, and is the most comprehensive method to evaluate your overall health. During these appointments, be prepared to examine your personal life habits in depth, and make goals to establish diet, nutrition, stress and sleep patterns to improve your life. These visits require your family health history so that you and your physician can determine what is going on in your body and what treatment options are available to you.
If you are ready to improve your health and get your wellness back, call Balanced Well-Being Healthcare at (970) 631-8286 for a consultation! Dr. Alessi and her talented staff are equipped with the knowledge and technology that you need to get your life back on track. Call now!