November 22, 2017
Family Health History Day coincides with that other family holiday: Thanksgiving.
You know that form you get every time you go to the doctor's office? The one that asks if any of your relatives have had one of three dozen different conditions? You try to recall. Was it your aunt on your father's side that had diabetes, or was it your mom's brother with dementia?
Too many of us have too little knowledge of our family health history. That is, until something happens to our own health that makes us wonder "Am I the first person in my family to deal with this?," and off we go to do some research.
KVH Event Coordinator Bri Botten is 25 years old. That's younger than many of us were when we first began to dig into our relatives' medical history. Botten is an exception.
"My mom and grandpa would always go to doctor's appointments and I never knew why," remembers Botten. "I started to ask her questions and learned more and more about things they were being seen for. My mom had cancer when she was 19. She's had an ongoing, serious chronic health issue since I was 11. My grandfather has sarcoidosis and a few other serious health issues that have caused him to be ill and in pain every day."
As Botten grew older, her mother became more open about health issues, and "things that I needed to keep in mind, things that could run in our family. I told Mom that it's important for me to know because although it may scare me, it could also help to educate me on my own possible health issues."
Botten's curiosity paid off. "I learned are that there are certain medications or shots I could not receive. I learned that my mom is prone to superficial thrombophlebitis after IVs, and I am, too." While she realizes that a family health history won't contain all the answers, "there may be some genetic issues or triggers that may cause something that happened to your parents to happen in your life as well. Knowing and being aware can help you take precautionary measures."
Generally, more is better when it comes to family health history. Begin with those closest in your circle - parents and siblings - and work your way out. Everything from allergies to miscarriages to causes of death can be important details in a comprehensive history.
Botten encourages others to follow her lead and take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to learn about each other's health histories. "As scary or hard as it may be, it's always better to know than to wonder what's going on. Health is a fragile thing and should never be taken for granted."
Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, HealthNews does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare provider.
Related: Family Health History: Why It's Important and What You Should Know