Why knowing your family medical history is a life skill

Ineza Diane, a 21-year-old university student, recently had the shock of her life when she was found to be suffering from high blood pressure.

Ineza Diane, a 21-year-old university student, recently had the shock of her life when she was found to be suffering from high blood pressure.

While having lunch with her mother, who suffers from the same disease, she collapsed and following a medical examination, she was found to be suffering from high blood pressure.
Ineza’s mother and grandparents suffer from the same disease and so it didn’t come as a surprise to her parents that their daughter was suffering from a disease prevalent in the family, according to medical examination.

“My daughter is now making healthy lifestyle choices because the disease was detected early enough. I talked to my other children about the hereditary diseases in our family tree and had all of them screened,” she said.

Ineza’s mother advises that parents should always talk to their children early enough about the diseases that are common in their family tree.

She also says parents should take their children for screening early enough for early detection and take preventive measures if need be.

One of the commonly asked questions during consultation with doctors is if anyone in your family suffers from a particular ailment one is suffering from.

Often times, people will say they do not know because they have never cared to find out or do not deem it vital. However, experts say it is crucial to know family medical history and the hereditary diseases that prevailed most or repeatedly among different family members and relatives.

Doctors say early diagnosis reduces risks of suffering the same disease.
Dr Alex Butera, a specialist at the Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, says family medical history is a record of health information about a person and their close relatives.

He said it is important for one to know their family medical history because families usually share same genes, environment and lifestyle. Some even treasure similar diet.
Knowing one’s medical family history helps a medic to predict the common conditions affecting them and their patterns, Dr Butera says.

“It would also help in surveillance of common conditions as well as prevention but this does not help in sporadic cases which can appear in any individual,” said Dr Butera.
The common hereditary diseases include asthma, diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure. Others also include scoliosis (bent spine), sickle cell, mental Illness, hemophilia and cystic fibrosis to mention but a few.

Dr Butera also advises that taking supplements is helpful if environment is deficient. For instance, in areas where soil is deficient in iodine.

Dr Tekle G. Egiziabher, a gynecologist at the Rwanda Military Hospital, said knowing one’s medical family history helps one make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, avoiding smoking and alcohol, which can intensify the chances of one suffering the diseases in their family lineage.

If you know nothing about your family medical history, it is high time you consulted your parents or guardians to enable easy diagnosis.

 

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