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6 Health Risks Faced By Veterans

Health Risks Faced By Veterans

For veterans, there is nothing better than coming home after military service. However, rejoining society is not easy, especially when you have numerous ailments and health complications from your time in the military.

Serving your country comes at a heavy price. You may continue to pay the cost long after you leave the armed forces. The physical and mental health conditions that veterans experience can be extensive and long-lasting. Some conditions may be manageable with treatment, while others may require lifelong care.

Below is a list of some health risks you may experience as a war veteran.

1. Mental Health Problems

Veterans are at an increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after someone experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event, such as combat, sexual assault, or a natural disaster.

People with PTSD often have difficulty sleeping, restlessness, and trouble concentrating. They may also have flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of anxiety and fear.

If you are a veteran and you think you may have PTSD, it is important to seek help. There are many effective treatments available, including therapy and medication.

2. Asbestos Related Illnesses

Asbestos was used in military ammunition, barracks, and vehicles throughout the 20th century. As a result, veterans who served in the military around the 1980s may have been exposed to asbestos.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can build up in the lungs and other organs. This can lead to serious health problems, including mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer.

Symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses may not appear for decades after exposure. Hence, if you worked on a military base and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor right away:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Swelling in the hands or feet

There is no cure for mesothelioma, but there are treatments that can help to relieve symptoms and prolong life.

3. Musculoskeletal Injuries

Serving in the military can take a toll on your body. You may experience chronic musculoskeletal pain from handling heavy equipment, using machinery that strains your muscles, and sleeping in uncomfortable barracks and beds. There is a limit to what your body can handle. You can rupture or injure your muscles if you continue pushing your boundaries. This is why, as a veteran, when you’re no longer interacting with heavy equipment, you may feel the aftermath of putting yourself through these situations.

Your muscles may be incredibly sore; you may have frozen shoulders, stiff arms, and, in the worst-case scenario, struggle to use your limbs. Some veterans also complain about feeling a burning sensation and twitching in their bodies. You may get diagnosed with chronic conditions like arthritis and muscle fatigue.

4. Hearing Loss and Numbness

Gunfire, explosions, and rockets are loud. When using these weapons, you have to be close to them, which can heavily impact your hearing. Continuously being exposed to loud noise can hurt your ear drum. The average hearing frequency of a healthy person is about 20 to 20,000 Hz. This entails that beyond 180 dB, you risk rupturing your eardrums; even a slight increase toward 85 dB is considered damaging. Unfortunately, much of the artillery used in the armed forces is quite loud. The A1-Ton TNT bomb measures about 210 dB, which can easily cause hearing loss. Once you return home, you may find it hard to hear the people around you.

Moreover, the machines used may vibrate frequently. Your body needs steady equipment. When you use power tools that vibrate intensely in your hands, it can damage your nerves. So, you may feel numbness, tingles, and, in extreme cases, carpal tunnel syndrome. Other machines can cause back aches and joint pain, which is equally painful.

5. Exposure To Dangerous Chemicals

During World War I, the Germans utilized phosgene gas as a weapon. This is a type of irritant that is far more lethal than the chlorine gas. Once inhaled, it would fill the victim’s lungs with fluids that would cause them to suffocate to their death slowly. Over the years, numerous chemicals have entered the picture, each harming you differently. Depending on where you served, you may have been exposed to chemicals that irritate your skin, cause blisters, or damage your heart. Health hazards from chemicals are difficult to treat and can lead to severe disabilities.

6. Infectious Diseases

Some countries are still battling with numerous kinds of infectious diseases to date. For instance, veterans deployed to Afghanistan may contract infectious diseases while serving their time there. For now, there is a limited list of diseases found among soldiers who served in the Gulf War in 1990 and Afghanistan in 2001. These are as follows:

  • Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by mosquitoes. Symptoms of this illness include chills, fever, and sweat.

  • Brucellosis

Brucellosis is a type of bacterial infection that impacts the muscles and joints. If you come down with this ailment, you may sweat profusely and experience immense chronic pain that lasts for years.

  • Mycobacterium Tuberculosis

This form of TB is another bacterial infection that hits the lungs. If you contract TB on active duty, you may feel immense chest pain and persistent cough, along with weight loss.

  • Campylobacter jejuni

Campylobacter jejuni is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause food poisoning. However, this food poisoning is severe, resulting in intense abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever.

Final Thoughts

As a war veteran, one of the heaviest prices to pay is in the form of your health. War can be very unforgiving and can leave you with lasting wounds. There are numerous health risks you can face as a veteran. If you have any of these, you must see a medical practitioner and undergo extensive treatment. While the list of what can happen to you is exhaustive, it includes asbestos-related diseases, mental disorders, and infectious diseases. It would help if you treated them immediately instead of letting them fester. Untreated health problems can complicate your life down the road.

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