Honor National Family Health History Day This Thanksgiving

Family time is always special, and Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year in the United States when everyone gathers and shares meals, plays games, and reminisces about the good times. Along with coming together for a sumptuous meal, families express gratitude and count blessings. But do you know, National Family Health History Day is also celebrated on the same day? The National Family Health History Day is observed, encouraging them to sit together and discuss the health problems that run in the family. The day is to share health history, which serves as an invaluable tool for taking care of the health of many coming generations. It lets people anticipate health issues and make smarter decisions for enjoying a healthier life. 

 

Despite having so much importance of knowing the family health records, only one-third of the total American population have documented their history. This is why National Family Health History Day is celebrated every year. The idea behind the observation of this day is to trace the diseases suffered by your parents, brother/sisters, or other close relatives and learn about all the factors that can affect your health. Since learning and documenting the family health history is the first step towards a longer and healthier future, health workers encourage people to have open conversations and get all their medical facts. 

 

Remember, health is a valuable asset, and one must take good care of it. And knowing your family’s health history is the first step towards being proactive about your health. So, in between the pecan pie and kickoff on Thanksgiving, have a serious discussion about your family health concerns

 

To learn more about the National Family Health History Day, scroll down. This article is curated with all the information that is important for you to know. 

 

Ways To Collect Family Health History

 

There are several health conditions that a person inherits from their family. The risks of hereditary illnesses are also passed from one generation to another. Hence, knowing the family health history becomes essential for taking care of health and preventing severe diseases. 

 

Here are some of the ways by which you can collect the required information on National Family Health History Day.

 

Talk About Health Conditions With All The Family Members

 

Depending upon the family dynamics, having a conversation regarding the health conditions might be a difficult task, but it is of great help for dealing with hereditary diseases. So, come out of your comfort zone and gather the courage to talk with your family members. Start by determining the relatives you want to include and sit with them and talk. Even if you think you know, these conversations might help bring out new information to you.

 

Ask Your Relatives Questions

To know all the vital information without missing out on any point, you must be prepared with a questionnaire. Knowing all the questions you need to ask will help you in having a better conversation. So, ask your relatives about the chronic diseases, at what age they got diagnosed, the treatment they took, about family ancestry, and more. While asking questions, make sure you record it somewhere so that you can easily share it with your relatives and health service provider. 

 

Look At The Certificates And Medical Records

Checking the medical records and certificates will help get a complete picture of the medical conditions of your family members. Take the records and study them. In case of the demise of your relative due to severe disease, check the death certificate. By doing so, you will get all the answers to your questions related to family health diseases.

 

Diseases To Talk About On National Family Health History Day

 

 

There is a long list of hereditary diseases that you must know about; here, we have mentioned some of the most prominent ones that hold greater risks of transferring from one generation to another. Hence, learn about such diseases and discuss them on National Family Health History Day.

 

- Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer is a cancer of the bowels and one of the leading causes of death among men and women. Having a family member with colorectal cancer before the age of 50 or multiple close family members with this type of cancer increases the risk of passing it to further generations. So, sitting down with parents or relatives and discussing it on National Family Health History Day is extremely important. 

 

- Breast Or Ovarian Cancer

Getting mammography screening done is essential when parents, siblings, or close relatives have breast or ovarian cancer. Such kind of cancer becomes severe if not diagnosed at the right time. Hence, it is always recommended to learn about its history on National Family Health History Day and take the proper measures for decreasing its risk of developing cancer. Even though breast cancer awareness day is celebrated in September, it's not too late to start the discussion and talk about it with your family.

 

- Hereditary Hemochromatosis

Hereditary Hemochromatosis is another genetic disease that is not known to the majority of the population. In this disorder, the body accumulates too much iron, which leads to severe liver damage and other complications. If anyone in your close family, especially your brother or sister, is suffering from this disease, it is more likely to be passed to the next generation. Talk about it on National Family Health History Day and take measures to lower its risk of development. 

 

- Heart Disease

Having a family history of heart disease is a major concern and requires the right steps to be taken to decrease the risks of getting heart disease. These steps might include eating healthy, limiting alcohol consumption, staying active, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking, and more. To get the motivation for taking these steps, one must begin learning about its history in the family. Talk about the same with your doctor on National Family Health History Day and safeguard yourself and your loved ones.

 

- Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions these days. While the majority of people are suffering from it, the risk of future generations being diagnosed with it has increased tremendously. In today’s era, more and more children, teenagers, or adults are developing diabetes, making it crucial to find out on National Family Health History Day. Start by knowing who has diabetes in your family, at what age they get diagnosed, type of diabetes, and more. Once you are well equipped with all the details, consult your doctor and take preventive measures.

 

- Osteoporosis

This is a kind of medical illness in which bones become so weak that they remain at higher risk of getting broken. Ask your family members regarding the same and if anyone suffers from it, talk to your doctor and get yourself screened. Getting checked might save you from developing the disease. 

 

Significance Of Collecting National Family Health History 

 

 

It Helps In Protecting Future Generation

Family is special, and everyone wants their future generation to be safe and healthy. While one can’t change the genes, one can minimize the risks by knowing their health history. It will also help parents to plan a family accordingly. By doing so, you will not just safeguard your immediate next generation but many more generations. 

 

Detects Risks At The Early Stage Of Life

It is crucial to be aware of all the risk factors to take the right preventive measures at the right time. Talking about your family’s medical conditions on National Family Health History Day, you can predict and take the preventive step to reduce the risk of hereditary illness. Most of the diseases are preventable; however, the first step should always be getting them screened. This can only be done by knowing the family history.

 

Helps In Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Being aware of family history will motivate you to take steps to lower the chances of getting the disease or preventing it if you already have one. Although one cannot change the family health history, one can stay fit and safe by making healthy lifestyle choices. Removing unhealthy habits like smoking, consuming alcohol, not exercising, eating junk food, etc., will minimize the risks. 

 

To Stall Severe Diseases

Only those who know their family history can take the measures to stall the diseases that could be lying dormant in an individual’s genes. It will guide you in opting the screening for early detection and taking the treatment for successful prevention before it reaches a life-threatening stage.  

 

To Know Whether A Disease Is Genetic Or Not

Not all diseases are hereditary. There are two different types of diseases: genetic or acquired. Genetic diseases are caused by a mutation in genes. Such diseases come from the parents who carry the faulty gene or from their own disorders. On the contrary, acquired diseases are the ones that develop over a period of time and don't have a history. So, knowing the family health history will help you understand the kind of disease you are having. 

 

General FAQs

 

Q1. When was the first National Family Health History Day celebrated?

Ans. National Family Health History Day was first observed in 2004. The U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving as the awareness day. 

 

Q2. What are the ways of celebrating National Family Health History Day?

Ans. There are different ways of honoring National Family Health History Day. The most prominent one is to learn about the health history and share it with all the close relatives. Other than this, there are some more ways to celebrate the day. These include:

 

- Draw a genealogy tree for a better understanding of the history

- Telling people about the importance of knowing family history

- Sharing vital information and resources on multiple platforms

- Review the risk factors according to past family medical conditions

- Take your loved ones for a health checkup

- Update health history on the occasion of the awareness day

 

Q3. What should you include while gathering Family Health History?

Ans. To know the family health history, the medical condition of close relatives should be included. Family members who are related by blood influence the health of an individual. The relations that should be included are:

 

- Parents

- Children

- Grandparents

- Brothers and sisters

- Aunts and uncles

 

Bottom Line

“Knowing is not enough; you also need to act on it.” While the younger generation underestimates the importance of knowing about hereditary factors, they are walking down a road that could trouble them in the future. We live with the genetic outcomes and pass them on to the next generation. Similarly, our previous generations have passed on several diseases that might result in severe health conditions. This is why it is incredibly essential to talk about the past health history of the family and enjoy better health in the long run. So, on the occasion of Thanksgiving, make sure you have a discussion about your family health history and make your loved ones’ life significantly better. 

 

 

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Resembling a raspberry, this lesion marks the onset of the disease.Secondary StageAs the infection progresses, multiple similar lesions erupt across the body, accompanied by skin rashes that often spread to the palms and soles. Swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, and nasal discharge are common symptoms during this stage.Latent StageDespite the apparent subsidence of symptoms, Yaws remains latent within the body, silently progressing and potentially reactivating without treatment.Late StageWithout intervention, Yaws can wreak havoc on the body, causing severe deformities in bones and cartilage, gummatous lesions, and debilitating disabilities.Symptoms Of Yaws DiseaseImage: WHOPainless, Raspberry-like Sores (Primary Lesions)These lesions typically appear at the site of infection and are characterized by their resemblance to raspberries. They are usually small, raised, and may be slightly moist.Skin RashesBeyond the primary lesions, secondary yaws present widespread skin rashes, particularly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. These rashes, ranging from flat, reddish spots to raised, scaly patches, may appear.Swollen Lymph NodesAs the body's immune system responds to bacterial infection, lymph nodes near the affected areas may become swollen and tender to the touch.Joint Pain and SwellingYaws can cause inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, especially in the later stages of the disease.Nasal Discharge and CrustingSometimes, yaws can affect the nasal passages, resulting in discharge, crusting, and irritation within the nostrils.Bone and Cartilage DeformitiesWithout timely treatment, yaws can progress to affect the bones and cartilage, leading to deformities such as saber-shaped tibias, saddle noses, and gummatous lesions.Gummatous LesionsThese soft, tumor-like growths can develop on the skin, mucous membranes, and bones, causing further disfigurement and tissue damage.Thickening and Darkening of the SkinChronic yaw infections may cause hyperpigmentation and thickening of the skin, particularly in areas prone to friction or pressure.Fever and MalaiseIn the acute stages of yaws, individuals may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and general malaise.Secondary Bacterial InfectionsOpen sores and lesions associated with yaws increase the risk of secondary bacterial infections, further complicating the disease and delaying healing.Must Read: Heart Disease In The US: Facts, Causes, and TreatmentCauses Of Yaws DiseaseBacterial Infection (Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue)Yaws is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue, which belongs to the same family as the bacteria responsible for syphilis. However, while syphilis is primarily sexually transmitted, yaws spread through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact, particularly in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.Poor Hygiene and SanitationYaws transmission thrives in environments with inadequate access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and services. Overcrowded living conditions, lack of personal hygiene practices, and limited medical attention contribute to the persistence of yaws in endemic regions.Tropical ClimateYaws are more prevalent in warm, humid climates, where environmental conditions favor the survival and transmission of the causative bacteria. Tropical regions with high levels of rainfall and vegetation provide ideal breeding grounds for disease vectors and facilitate the spread of yaws within communities.Limited Medical AccessIn regions where yaws are endemic, barriers to healthcare access, including geographical remoteness, financial constraints, and cultural beliefs, may prevent individuals from seeking timely diagnosis and treatment. Without access to services, yaws infections can go untreated, leading to further transmission and disease progression.Social Determinants of HealthSocioeconomic factors such as poverty, food insecurity, and lack of education exacerbate the burden of yaws in affected communities. Addressing these social determinants of health is essential for implementing effective prevention and control measures and ensuring equitable access to resources for vulnerable populations.Diagnosis of Yaws DiseaseClinical Examination: Doctors carefully inspect skin lesions, noting their appearance, distribution, and any associated symptoms. Yaws lesions typically present as painless, raspberry-like sores (primary lesions) but can progress to more severe manifestations in later stages.Sample CollectionTo confirm the diagnosis, doctors collect samples from skin lesions, such as scrapings or swabs, for laboratory analysis. These samples are then examined under a microscope using techniques like dark-field microscopy, which allows for the visualization of Treponema pallidum bacteria.Serological TestsBlood tests are often performed to detect antibodies against Treponema pallidum. Serological tests, including rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) tests, can help confirm the presence of infection and assess disease progression.Differential DiagnosisYaws disease may resemble other conditions, such as syphilis, cutaneous leishmaniasis, or fungal infections.Check This Out: Plaque Psoriasis: Key Details To Manage This Skin DiseaseTreatment of Yaws DiseaseAntibiotic TherapyPenicillin, particularly benzathine penicillin G, administered as a single intramuscular injection, remains the treatment for Yaws disease. Alternative antibiotics, such as azithromycin, may be used for patients allergic to penicillin or in areas where penicillin is unavailable.Treatment RegimensA single dose of benzathine penicillin G is needed for primary and secondary yaws. Three doses of benzathine penicillin G are administered weekly for Latent and late-stage yaws.Surgical InterventionIn severe cases of late-stage yaws with extensive bone and soft tissue damage, surgical intervention may be required to correct deformities and improve functionality. Surgical procedures may include debridement, bone grafting, and corrective osteotomies.Community-Based Treatment ProgramsGiven the communal nature of yaws transmission, mass treatment campaigns targeting entire communities are often implemented to ensure widespread antibiotic coverage and effectively interrupt disease transmission.Health Education and CounselingAlongside antibiotic treatment, health education is crucial in preventing yaws recurrence and promoting community awareness of the disease, its transmission routes, and early treatment-seeking behavior.Yaws Treatment /Management PlanCommunity Engagement: Educating communities about Yaws transmission, symptoms, and treatment helps early detection and empowers them to seek timely care.Medicinal betterment: Strengthening medicine systems in endemic regions enhances diagnostic capabilities, facilitates treatment, and promotes disease surveillance.Collaborative Efforts: Governmental organizations, non-governmental agencies, and local communities are instrumental in implementing Yaws control programs.Research and Innovation: Investing in research for novel diagnostic tools, treatment modalities, and vaccines is crucial for advancing Yaws eradication efforts globally.Proactive Prevention MeasuresMass Treatment Campaigns: Administering antibiotics to entire communities interrupts disease transmission and reduces the reservoir of infection.Health Education Initiatives: Hygiene practices, handwashing, and wound care empower people to protect themselves against Yaws and other infectious diseases.Improved Sanitation: Access to clean water and sanitation facilities is essential for mitigating the risk of Yaws transmission and improving public health.Vector Control: Implementing measures to reduce exposure to disease vectors, such as flies, complements treatment efforts and minimizes the likelihood of reinfection.Sustainable Development Goals: Aligning Yaws efforts with broader sustainable development objectives ensures long-term progress toward health outcomes.Distinguishing Syphilis from YawsWhile Yaws and syphilis share a joint etiological agent, they differ significantly in their clinical presentation, transmission dynamics, and geographic distribution. Syphilis primarily spreads through sexual contact, affecting individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. In contrast, Yaws predominantly afflicts children in tropical regions with limited medical care, spreading through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact. Furthermore, while both diseases can cause severe complications if left untreated, syphilis often targets the cardiovascular and nervous systems, whereas Yaws primarily affects the skin, bones, and soft tissues.Also Read: Warning Signs of Parkinson's Disease You Shouldn't IgnoreConclusionYaws disease is a public health challenge, particularly in resource-constrained settings where poverty and neglect fuel its persistence. Through concerted efforts and unwavering commitment, we can consign Yaws to the annals of history, ensuring a healthier, more equitable future for future generations.