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November 11, 2011

Your Family Health History

National Family History Day is observed on Thanksgiving Day. This event, organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Surgeon General’s office, is a time to focus on the importance of collecting your family health history.

About 96 percent of people admit that knowing family history is important, but only one-third of Americans have actually tried to collect information on their families. Some medical conditions and diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes, are passed along through family genes and behaviors. Knowing what illnesses run in your family will make you and your dentist aware of your risk for certain problems.

Thanksgiving is a common holiday for all family members to get together. While getting together to eat your delicious feast and share memories, try collecting and recording information to determine your family’s struggle with health problems. Consider asking these questions with your relatives to get the information you need:

  • Do you have any chronic diseases or health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes?
  • Have you had any serious health problems, like cancer or stroke?
  • Have you experienced any dental problems, like cavities or gum disease?
  • How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
  • What treatments helped control your condition?
  • Do you have any unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, like alcoholism, tobacco use, poor diet, or no exercise?
  • For deceased relatives, note their ages and causes of death.
  • Did you or your partner have any difficulties or complications with pregnancy, like miscarriages or premature births?
  • When was the last time you visited the doctor or dentist?
  • What medications are you currently taking and what are they for?
  • What illnesses or disabilities did other ancestors and family members have?

After compiling your answers, organize them into a chart or family tree. The Office of the Surgeon General has a web tool that can help you manage your family’s health history. Once you know your risks of family disease, Dr. Pate can take appropriate care to prevent or treat dental complications for your whole family. Contact Dentistry in Buckhead at 404-266-9424 to schedule an appointment.