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The Nature of Hereditary Diseases

by Gab Billones


When we have a disease, the first idea that pops out of our mind is to cure it. For that, we have our hospital visit, to check-up our health and for the physician to diagnose what kind of treatment and medicine will we be needing. If you don’t go to a hospital, surely you’ll take the common medicine for the disease that you have and start taking it for the hope that you’ll get well as soon as possible. Naturally, we all want to get rid of it as soon as possible. But sometimes, we’re kind of stuck with it for some unfortunate reasons.

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For a lot of times, doctors point different reasons for certain diseases. Early birth defects, transmission places, improper sanitation, lifestyle habits and a lot more follow down the list. Heredity is usually an undermined factor in the process. Ironically, heredity is one of the major reasons why people are being diagnosed with diseases.

This kind of disease are the hereditary ones. Hereditary disease can be categorized as a genetic disease. Genetic diseases refer to a disease cause by an abnormality of the genetic material at the stage of germ cell or early embryo. As a result, this disease is present starting from the time the ones affected are born. As with the case of hereditary diseases, ones the family had that trait, it’s very much possible for someone within their bloodline to have it.

A certain genetic disorder can only be considered inherited if at least 2 family members were diagnosed of such disease. Usually, it is caused by genetic mutation of one generation’s DNA set-up. But on certain cases, it is a combination of environmental factors and genetic mutation. For example, a genetic disorder that rose out of an individual’s dietary habits can be passed on from a parent to a child. While some disorders can be seen in more than one generation of a family, most of the time, it runs in one generation of different degrees of consanguinity.

However, hereditary disease doesn’t always mean that every family member of the succeeding generation would inherit one, although most of that time, that is the case. There are instances when the mutated trait hides recessive which is also the reason why it’s sometimes being undermined. It might sometimes be an autosomal recessive inheritance, that only occurs to specific members of the family and also it might sometimes just randomly pick its victim.

The other one, which is the familial disease, suggests that a lot of them have the disease. In short, there are different types of genetic inheritance disease.

  • Single gene inheritance

Also called as Mendelian or monogenetic inheritance, single gene is the type of inheritance caused by the changes or mutations that occur in the DNA sequence of a single gene. They are mostly the ones that first develop the disease that can be passed into the succeeding family member. Example of these are crystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Marfan syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and hemochromatosis. Most of these diseases are inherited in recognizable patterns such as autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and x-linked.

  • Multi-factorial inheritance

Also called as complex or polygenic inheritance, multi-factorial type cause by a combination of environmental factors and mutations in multiple genes. In short, these are common diseases which have a different nature on different families. Example is the breast cancer. It has found that it’s susceptibility have been found on chromosomes 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 22 and the ones affected might carry the gene depending on the kind of trait present in the family. This disease is associated with heritable traits such as fingerprint patterns, height, eye color and the like.

Either of the two, when these genes unluckily sprouts on a family, the disease will have to be addressed regardless. But not all diseases  that have fallen into this category is incurable. In most cases, diseases are curable or at the very least mitigable. But given the history of how the roots dealt with the problem, the pattern of disease could have been co-opted and the harms can be mitigated by improving environmental conditions and dietary habits as early as possible.

With that being said, never be afraid if you have the disease. Be honest in telling your physician if you have a family history of a certain sickness or disorder. But of course, before being able to do that, you have to be aware enough of your family background. It pays off to know and in times of health crisis, awareness alone can save us time, money and emotions.


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