By: Michael S Sheaffer
Know Your Family Health History
When managing your own health, it helps to know your history, or more specifically your family health history.
You don’t just inherit your good looks from your parents or those who came before you. Sometimes, serious health conditions are passed down through the generations. Both common and rare diseases often run in families, sometimes skipping a generation or two. It helps to document some of the diseases faced by relatives in your family tree, so you can understand your own health risks.
While most people know that this information can be critical to their health, many people either do not know or have never tried to document this information. A little more than a decade ago, the U.S. Surgeon General kicked off an effort to change that by instituting National Family History Day. Because Thanksgiving is such a family-centric holiday, each year since 2004, the national holiday has doubled as a day not just to eat turkey and pie, but to talk to family and attempt to document health history.
To make it easier for families, the surgeon general even set up a simple and sharable tool for families to document their own health history called My Family Health Portrait. It allows you and your family members to create a family tree, write down health conditions and together create a powerful document to help you all manage your health.