As much as we try to keep ourselves healthy with diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices, somes of the biggest factors to our long-term health can be out of our control: our family health history. Knowing your own family’s health history can be a helpful way to paint a picture of your overall health and know what to possible health risks to watch out for later on in life.
By asking just a few questions, you can arm yourself with information to share with your doctor and develop greater peace of mind for the future. Here are a few to keep in mind for the next time you have the opportunity to learn more about your and your family health history.
Did I get my childhood vaccines?
If you attended a public school in the U.S., chances are that you received most of your basic childhood vaccinations. Despire the recent growing trend in the pseudoscience-informed anti-vaccination movement, most Americans are still getting their vaccines, and while it’s likely you did too, it never hurts to check. Did you get a chickenpox vaccine? What about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine? Have you received a tetanus shot in the last year? Try to find copy of your medical records to verify that you’ve received all your necessary vaccinations.
These questions are especially important if you’re planning on traveling outside of the country, as various exotic destinations can require additional vaccines to protect you during your travels.
Do any illnesses (including mental illnesses) run in our family?
When dealing with your health, knowledge is power. Try to find out about any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, that might run in your family. Asking questions like when family members developed disease and how their health changed can provide you with useful clues about your own future. If heart disease runs in your family, you may be at a higher risk later in your life, so making health-conscious decisions like eating better and exercising regularly can help you fight off the disease.
It’s also important to think about mental health issues like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. These can all run in the family and, if manifested, require attention from a trained professional. Knowing your family’s history with mental health issues can help you prepare to avoid possible triggers and set up a support system should any issues arise.
When and how did my relatives die?
While it may feel like a grim thought, knowing the details about the deaths of family members can help you prepare for the future. Much like knowing about any chronic illnesses that run in your family, knowing the exact cause (and age) of death as far back as you can is helpful in understanding your own health risks. Older generations of relatives might not have full medical records, but family members could know more about the cause of death.
Of course, knowing is just the start of the battle. Take this information to your doctor and they can help you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare for any possible issues. And SingleCare can help you find a great doctor nearby and with an average savings of 48%.