The Importance of Making a Record of Your Family Health History – The Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care Explain
When consulting with a doctor, some savvy patients bring along a carefully compiled journal detailing their family health history. Perhaps Grandma suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, Uncle Lou underwent triple bypass surgery, Dad is diabetic, or Sis was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. This type of information can provide invaluable guidance in identifying potential genetic and health risks. It will also help your healthcare practitioners determine whether a condition in question is isolated, identify who else in your family may be at risk, and recommend habit changes that may be needed now in order to prevent problems in the future.
In reality, though, most families rarely – if ever – sit down and discuss their medical issues. To a certain extent, this is quite understandable, because many individuals who are facing illness wish to retain some modicum of privacy. In addition, some family members may live far away, in another state or country, and you may not have regular contact with them. Others may have passed away.
Further, even when a family does engage in such discussions, the information is often less than accurate or complete, simply because most people aren’t the best historians when it comes to their own health. This could be true for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, when you are sick, you naturally want to focus on getting better, and not on taking notes about your illness.
Nevertheless, a comprehensive family health record is very beneficial in providing a true picture of your health to your doctors when they are making diagnoses and recommending appropriate treatment options. You can begin this important exercise by making a complete list of your immediate family members. Include your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, and children. Consider drawing a family tree, using a web-based tool, or creating a spreadsheet on your computer, which can guide your research and serve as a convenient place to organize the information you gather. Don’t forget to add children as they are born.
Next, research and record the medical history of each family member. Focus on major illnesses, hospitalizations, and chronic diseases, including the age of diagnosis. For family members who have passed away, include the age and cause of death.
Finally, provide copies of your work-in-progress to your children and other relatives who can benefit from this vital information, and share it with your physician. Ask your family members to commit to keeping the information current, and schedule a time to revisit and update your family health history at least once each year. It may be helpful do so at a time when many family members gather together, such as Thanksgiving, birthday celebrations, or other occasions.
For more health tips and information, please refer to our online series of articles, or contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and we welcome patients from Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Brandon, and throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area.