Find common veterans health and medical topics starting with the letter E that are related to military service history. The guide covers health topics from A to Z. Read on for more information about eye care, the Environmental Health Registry and other medical issues that begin with “E”.
This is an ongoing series and more veterans health topics and letters are coming soon.
Note: What follows should not be taken as medical advice and is not intended as a diagnosis. This page is general information related to common veterans conditions and should not replace advice from your health care provider.
A 2017/2018 NPR report discussing U.S. troops includes mention of approximately 20 missions across Africa, “mostly in the northern half of the continent.” And while there was no specific mention of Ebola risks for those who serve there, the families and friends of those who have served on the continent likely wonder how much of a risk there is regarding Ebola virus exposure. Ebola has been a problem, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the following areas:
- Sierra Leone
At the time of this writing there is no evidence that Ebola is a problem in the United States itself or in the majority of overseas military locations/missions.
Ebola is an often-fatal virus that spreads via blood or other body fluids from an infected person. The symptoms include:
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
There have been one or two “Ebola scares” involving infected or potentially infected travelers, but in the context of what a typical veteran, active duty, or military family member might experience, the Ebola virus is quite rare by comparison to other infectious and potentially fatal diseases. That said, the Centers For Disease Control has issued travel warnings related to Ebola virus outbreaks.
The VA official site warns, “Avoid unnecessary travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone…Practice enhanced precautions if traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
While it’s true that elder care is not a specific medical issue, there are many VA benefits in this area and a substantial amount of information about VA options for elder care including retirement pay issues, home and hospice care, end of life care, caregiver support, and much more.
Today’s veterans have more options than ever including VA programs for adult day care, in-home care, remotely-monitored health care, and more. Care providers have VA resources too thanks to options including the VA Respite Care program which allows primary caregivers to get a break from the daily requirements of caring for a loved one eligible for VA benefits.
The requirements for enrolling in these diverse VA elder care programs will vary, but many of them have rules that specify a clinical need for skilled services. The criteria for what determines a clinical need will also vary depending on the program but it’s never a good idea to assume you do NOT qualify until you have explored the options.
VA programs and their regulations are subject to change and thanks to ongoing efforts to make VA care more accessible and inclusive, past restrictions or limitations of a given VA elder care program may no longer apply.
Check with your nearest VA medical facility or VA center to learn what the current options and application requirements may be for the type of elder care program you seek. You can also get an overview of these programs at the VA official site under the heading “Geriatrics And Extended Care.”
There is a procedure called upper endoscopy that is used to diagnose diseases or disorders of the human digestive system including the duodenum, the esophagus, and stomach. This procedure may be conducted in a doctor’s office or as an outpatient appointment at a hospital.
A trained medical professional may recommend an endoscopy procedure to do one or more of the following:
- Investigate symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain, certain kinds of internal bleeding, vomiting, etc.
- Biopsy tissue to test for conditions that may include anemia, bleeding, inflammation, diarrhea, or certain types of cancer.
- Treatment techniques including foreign object removal, polyp surgery, and issues of the esophagus.
An endoscopy may be used together with other treatments, procedures, or diagnostics such as an ultrasound probe.
Environmental Health Registry
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers health screening and medical assessments for veterans who may have been exposed through military duty to a variety of environmentally hazardous conditions. This program is especially important for those who have served in areas or conflicts including, but not limited to:
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Liberation
- Operation New Dawn
- Gulf War I and II
- Any service involving duty where depleted uranium was used
- Any service where burn pit exposure occurred
The Department of Veterans Affairs has multiple health registries that help veterans understand the associated health concerns with service in these conflicts, and eligible vets may be able to participate in one or more of the following VA health registries:
- Agent Orange Registry
- Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry
- Gulf War Registry (includes Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn)
- Ionizing Radiation Registry
- Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program
- Toxic Embedded Fragment Surveillance Center
It should be noted that these programs are separate and unrelated to the VA compensation process and participating in any of the registries does not equal a VA recognition of exposure to environmental hazards for the purpose of making a compensation claim.
These health registries are to assist veterans in making good health care choices and informed decisions about the course of any required care where applicable.
Did you know the Department of Veterans Affairs conducts health research on patterns of illness and veteran health? The VA Epidemiology Program is a research division of the VA that conducts studies, many of which concentrate on the health effects of combat, deployment environments and duty, etc.
The VA research in this area often involves collecting data from veterans using VA health care facilities and interpreting that data to better improve the quality of VA care.
In conducting research in this area, the VA selects groups of veterans to participate; these studies do not accept volunteers, but the Department of Veterans Affairs encourages any veteran selected to take part to do so; the benefits of participating may include being part of a move to improve certain types of health care for those using VA medical facilities – contributing to continuous improvement at the VA can have lasting benefits for all who need the agency’s services.
Epilepsy is defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs as “…a condition of spontaneously recurring seizures.” Epilepsy is a medical problem that endures over the entire course of the patient’s life, but having a seizure does not automatically translate into an epilepsy diagnosis. Other medical conditions, physical problems, or injuries that have no connection with epilepsy may result in a seizure.
The seizures themselves are defined as “a result of sudden abnormal electrical activity in the brain.” There are different kinds of seizures depending on where the problem begins and how it spreads. There are generalized and partial seizures.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has 16 centers in the United States dedicated to the care of veterans who have seizure disorders including epilepsy.
These centers are known as VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence, and serves the veteran community with VA physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists and “other allied health care providers with interest and expertise in improving the health and well-being of Veteran patients with epilepsy” according to the VA official site. These centers can be found on the east and west coast, Texas, Florida, and New Mexico.
There are many eye conditions that can affect service members and veterans, from dry eye syndrome to macular degeneration. Then there are eye injuries received in the line of duty, or eye conditions aggravated by military service; all of these issues can be addressed or discussed with VA caregivers or approved civilian health providers as part of VA health care benefits, but one of the most important things in this area is patient education according to the VA official site.
Patients should take the time to study their symptoms and diagnosed conditions. It’s true that an informed patient will have a better experience with the health care provider – discussing symptoms and making diagnoses is not outside the realm of trial and error when symptoms are nonspecific enough to indicate several possible conditions.
Proper eye care, like so many other medical issues, may require the advice and supervision of a medical professional; it’s not safe to assume that a current eye problem is the result of “just getting older” or the remainders of an old illness or injury. There are diabetic eye diseases, Glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and vision loss. All of these can be managed better with early detection, so it pays to have any vision or eye-related symptoms looked at as soon as possible.
Remember, a single instance of dry eyes, fuzzy or blurry vision, or other problem is not always an indicator that there is a larger health concern to deal with, but repeated problems or a long-lasting issue with vision or the eye itself should be brought to the attention of a trained professional.
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