What Is a Medical History?

Knowing your medical history gives your primary care physician a better understanding of your overall health. An accurate medical history can also improve the quality of health care that you receive. So what is a medical history, and what do you include when compiling your medical history?

What is a medical history?

The National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms defines a medical history as “a record of information about a person’s health.” Basically your medical history includes any and all information that relates to your health.

It includes things past and present such as allergies, illnesses, diseases, accidents, injuries, surgeries, hospitalizations, and the results of physical examinations, screenings, and tests.

Your medical history may also include things like the medications you take – both prescription and over the counter – and lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and drug and alcohol use.

Many also include their family medical history in their personal medical history. Your family medical history refers to the past or present health information of your close family members. Family medical histories should include parents, siblings, children, and grandparents, and it may include other family members.

Why is a medical history important?

Providing your primary care physician with an accurate medical history helps give him or her a better understanding of your health. It allows your doctor to identify patterns and make more effective decisions based on your specific health needs.

Medical histories that include family medical histories can help your primary care physician identify diseases or health problems that run in your family. This allows your doctor to asses your risk for certain diseases or conditions.

It can also help prevent the onset of certain diseases or health problems. For example, if you have a family history of diabetes, your doctor will know to look closely for prediabetes. Or, your doctor may order tests or screenings if you have a higher risk for a certain type of cancer.

Your doctor will work with you to establish a plan to stay healthy and decrease your risk or prevent certain diseases.

Document your medical history and share this information with your doctor. Your annual wellness exam is a great time to provide your doctor with updates to your personal medical history or your family medical history. Looking for a doctor in Northwest Arkansas? Meet with a MANA physician today.