Knowing Your Family History Can Save Your Life

Knowing your family’s health history is an effective way to stay healthier. A family health history is a written record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family.

Your family health history can:

  • Identify if you are at a higher risk for a disease.
  • Provide early warning signs of disease.
  • Prevent complications from unknown allergies or reactions to certain treatments.
  • Help your doctor recommend treatment or other options to reduce your risk of
    disease. This can include lifestyle changes that will help keep you well.

You can’t change your genes, but you can change behaviors that affect your health, such
as smoking, inactivity, and poor eating habits.

Controlling Allergies

To some extent, allergies can run in families. If your parents have allergies, it is likely you will too. Signs and symptoms can be itching, sneezing, red bumps, slight swelling, and itchy, watery eyes. If any of these symptoms appear, be sure to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

Five Major Allergy Categories

Pollen – Plant pollen can cause allergies that come and go with the season.
Insects – Bee stings can cause systemic reactions.
Animals – Your family pet can shed dander.
Mold Spores – House plants can have a hidden source of mold spores. 
Foods – Peanuts are a common trigger for food allergies. 

The CDC suggests:

  • Talk to family members to get details about each person’s medical past. Be sure to include information about chronic issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
  • Determine if there is a family history of cancer or stroke.
  • Be aware of your family’s ancestry and ethnicity (some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups).
  • Share your history with your doctor and other family members.
  • Know at least your parents and grandparents histories.
  • Know your blood type to prevent the risk of receiving an incompatible blood type.

Health Problems that Run in Families:

  • Alcoholism
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Obesity

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