Find common veterans health and medical topics starting with the letter F that are related to military service history. The guide covers health topics from A to Z. Read on for more information about fibromyalgia, flu, fractures and other medical issues that begin with “F”.
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.
Fibromyalgia is considered a long-term health issue that involves chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness, and/or other difficulties with areas known as “trigger points” that are unusually sensitive or tender. This condition is said to affect around five percent of the population and may affect women more than men.
Causes of fibromyalgia may include:
Infections: Prior illnesses may trigger fibromyalgia.
Genetics: Fibromyalgia can run in families; research indicates that genetic mutations may play a role in how the condition develops in some cases.
Trauma: Fibromyalgia has been linked with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stress: Stress-related hormonal disturbances may contribute to fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:
- pain or dull aches in the lower abdomen
- trouble sleeping
- sleeping for long periods of time but without rest
- inability to focus
- difficulty paying attention
A VA official site page references a 2005 medical study which holds that fibromyalgia may be diagnosed, “more frequently in Gulf War Veterans compared to non-Gulf War Veterans.”
The official site adds that there is no known reason for this at press time. Diagnosis of the condition depends on “subjective symptoms of widespread pain that persist for greater than three months and a positive trigger point examination.”
Treating the condition may require attention to sleep habits, pain management, exercise and other lifestyle issues. At the time of this writing, medical cannabis is considered by some doctors as an appropriate, non-opioid pain management solution, but the VA cannot recommend this course of treatment nor approve/prescribe it for use in a veteran’s official VA treatment regimen.
Influenza, also known as the flu, is caused by viruses and is spread through the nose and mouth. This sickness affects as many as 20% of the United States population each year, and while in most cases the sickness is unpleasant but not serious, it does kill people with already compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children. Flu symptoms can include:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
Some people confuse symptoms of the common cold with flu symptoms. Colds don’t normally have an associated fever or an upset stomach. It’s also easy to confuse the unrelated “stomach flu” with the symptoms of influenza, but these two issues are not the same.
The flu is normally prevented with a vaccine, but frequent hand-washing and other hygienic practices during cold and flu season can also help in a preventive way.
Flu shots are available for veterans enrolled in VA health care; you can get a flu shot at the nearest VA health care facility. The VA does not vaccinate family members or family members of VA employees with this program, it is for veterans only.
You are not immediately protected against the flu after a flu shot; it takes about 14 days for the body to get fully immunized once the shot has been administered. The VA official site reminds users that you cannot get the flu from a flu shot as the virus in the shot is dead, not active.
Food allergies are similar to other allergies such as pollen, dust, pet dander, etc. in that they have varying degrees of severity and some will be almost harmless while other allergies could become life-threatening.
A food allergy is considered your body’s response to certain foods that trigger the immune system even though there is no infection or other problem to respond to. A variety of foods cause allergic reactions ranging from minor to deadly.
Some of the most common foods that cause allergic reactions are peanuts, food containing soy, wheat gluten, food and drinks with floral additives such as rose hips, hops, etc. Tree nuts, eggs, and shellfish are also common.
Some people do not develop food allergies until later in life; these issues can be difficult to identify when their severity is minor, but some start off with minor food issues that develop into full-blown medical conditions that are either considered food allergies or have symptoms in common with allergies.
Common symptoms of food allergies include the following:
- Mouth swelling
- Mouth itching
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Tightening of the throat
- Trouble breathing
- Sudden changes in blood pressure
If you suffer from food allergies, it is best to wear a device or identifying bracelet describing your condition and the substances you are allergic to. If you are not sure whether or not you have a food allergy, it’s best to consult a specialist who can determine the nature of your medical issue.
Preventive medicine for food allergies basically involves avoiding the foods that cause the symptoms.
Bone fractures are usually the result of a sudden injury or a condition that does not cause a fracture at first, but develops over time. A car accident, a fall, or other impact can fracture bones instantly; conditions like stress fractures and injuries brought on by osteoporosis can cause fractures to occur over time.
Stress fractures can be caused by overuse, poor support in shoes or boots, or can develop when there is low bone density. Symptoms of any bone fracture may include some or all of the following:
- Elevated or intense pain in the affected area or nearby
- Something looks “wrong” in the affected area, a bone out of place or not in its usual place
- Tenderness around the injury site
- Problems moving the affected limb
Seek medical care immediately for a bone fracture; you don’t know whether the injuries you are aware of are more complicated than they appear, or whether the broken bone has cut blood vessels or is causing damage due to the injury.
Fractures may require a variety of treatment approaches depending on severity but you may require surgery, a cast, or other medical treatment. A fracture is a serious issue – even if it starts out as a minor problem it can develop into something worse if not treated properly by a trained professional.
Frostbite occurs when the human body is subjected to extreme cold – it affects the face, hands, or any other exposed body parts. The most sensitive extremities may be more vulnerable to the initial onset of frostbite; fingers, toes, ears, the nose, etc. The skin affected by frostbite may turn gray or yellow/gray, go numb, and have an unusual waxy feel.
Frostbite should be treated immediately, but depending on the severity of the case there could be lasting or permanent effects; in some cases amputation is required to prevent the affected area from becoming necrotic.
If you suspect you may be suffering from frostbite, get into a warm location as soon as you can, and avoid using affected body parts as this may increase the damage to those areas. You can immerse the frostbite area or body part in warm-but-not-hot water, but do not rub the area or use a heating pad to treat the problem. Seek medical care as soon as possible.
Fungal infections are common; athlete’s foot is one example, and those who have experienced a yeast infection have also had experience with a fungus. There are many different types of fungus with different methods of reproduction. About half are considered harmful and often the reproductive mode (airborne spores) is the cause of the infection.
Anyone can get a fungal infection, but those with weakened or compromised immune systems are more prone to them than others. Treatment of a fungal infection is often topical, with medication applied directly to the affected areas. There may be oral medications available depending on the type of treatment required.
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