Friday Health Corner

WHY YOU SHOULD BE INFORMED ABOUT YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH HISTORY

Pelumi was found gasping for breath in her room and was rushed into the emergency section of a General Hospital. Thirty minutes later, her severe asthma resolved as her respiration stabilized. Her father wondered why she kept having recurrent asthma since neither he nor her mother were asthmatics. The doctor explained that asthma is one heritable disease that could skip a generation. On further interrogations, it was discovered that his maternal aunt was a known asthmatic before she passed away.

Benefits of Knowing Your Family Health History

1. It can help identify if you are at a higher risk for certain conditions because of your shared genes.

2. It also helps you take steps to reduce your risk of coming down with illnesses peculiar to your family line. For instance, if you’re at a higher risk of having breast cancer, your doctor may recommend more frequent screening (such as mammography) starting at an earlier age.

3. The earlier you are able to identify family health patterns, the earlier you can take steps to reduce your risk, or get early treatment.

Some Common Health Conditions That Can be Found in a Family’s Health History include:

▪️asthma
▪️birth defects (such as spina bifida or a cleft lip)
▪️cancer (including breast, ovarian, prostate, bowel/colon or melanoma skin cancer)
▪️diabetes mellitus
▪️genetic conditions, for example, cystic fibrosis or haemophilia
▪️heart disease or sudden heart attack
▪️high blood pressure (hypertension)
▪️high cholesterol
▪️mental illness
▪️osteoporosis
▪️recurrent miscarriages (more than 3 pregnancy losses to a couple or woman)
▪️stillbirths
▪️stroke.

Please note that having a high incidence of a certain disease in your family does not necessarily mean that you will DEFINITELY develop that condition. Nevertheless, it’s best to be on the safer side than on the sorry side by being equipped with this knowledge.

How Can I Discover My Family Health History?

The best way to discover your family health history is to talk to your parents and relatives about their health information. You can then pass this knowledge on to your children and other relatives. Armed with this knowledge, they would be able to plan for their future health

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