Gathering Your Medical Genealogy

Providing a good medical and family history is a crucial way you can help your healthcare provider make correct diagnosis and treatment plan. It will also helpful for your family to be aware of your health status in the event you aren’t able to speak for yourself or make your own healthcare decisions.

Your personal medical history is your life history from a medical point of view. This includes any and all major illnesses from the time you were a baby to the present. Important illnesses from childhood to discuss include serious infectious diseases like scarlet fever, childhood cancers, autoimmune disorders, head trauma (concussions), major broken bones,  as well as
operations or hospitalizations.  Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of the details of your health when you were a child, any information you can provide will be helpful.

Your adult medical history can give your healthcare provider clues that may help with dealing with your current state of health. In addition to any urgent issues facing you in the moment, discuss illnesses or symptoms that have occurred frequently throughout your adult life, such as recurrent urinary tract infections or allergies. Symptoms that may be overlooked include: headaches, changing bowel habits, or problems with sleep. A symptom does not have to have a diagnosis to be important, as it may play an important role in your health puzzle.

Your family history can also provide your healthcare provider with an idea of your risk for certain diseases and may guide testing and treatment decisions. Even if you don’t specific details or diagnosis about your parents or grandparents or parents, any information about symptoms they
had or how they passed away can provide a lot of information. No detail is unimportant. You may find it helpful to write down what you know and then ask other family members, particularly if there are any alive from your parents or grandparents generations, to fill in missing details.

Once you have gathered all of this information, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to write it all down. I encourage you to give your spouse, child(ren), and any sisters/brothers a copy of the information for their records. Like a family tree, it will give them a glimpse into their medical genealogy, which is a gift for future generations to come.

If you need help gathering this information or have questions about where to start, reach out to the AFFIRMATIVhealth team at for tips and suggestions.

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