Find common veterans health and medical topics starting with the letter H that are related to military service history. The guide covers health topics from A to Z. Read on for more information about Health Registry Evaluation, hearing aids, heat injury and other medical issues that begin with “H”.
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.
This VA healthcare topic is squarely in the realm of prevention and preventive medicine. Hand hygiene is one of the most important parts of stopping the spread of the flu virus and other illnesses that are spread by human contact. The VA official site has a list of several hand hygiene techniques that can dramatically improve your chances of avoiding flu symptoms or other problems.
Those techniques include hand washing with soap and water and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. There are also some important times you should always hand-wash:
Wash/sanitize hands before:
- Food prep
- Caring for a sick person
- Treating an injury
- Visiting a patient’s room
Wash hands after:
- Using the bathroom
- Preparing or cooking raw meat
- Handling waste
- Changing diapers
- Helping someone use the bathroom
- Caring for the sick
- Nose blowing
- Touching garbage
- Touching an animal
- Treating an injury
- Leaving a patient’s room
Health Registry Evaluation
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a health registry program specifically for those who may have been exposed to environmental hazards while serving in uniform. It’s a free medical assessment offered to those affected by the following areas (though this list is not a complete one, it’s a good introduction to the health registry):
- Those who may have been exposed to Agent Orange
- Those who may have worked on or near burn pits
- Those who may be at risk for Gulf War Syndrome via military service in the Gulf Wars
- Those who may have been exposed to ionizing radiation
- Military service that included exposure to depleted uranium
- Military service that may have resulted in toxic embedded fragments in the human body
The VA health registry includes a free and voluntary medical evaluation designed to “…alert Veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to exposure to specific environmental hazards during their military service.” Data collected from service members through the registry assists the VA in knowing how to respond to such health issues in addition to providing information for the veteran and family.
VA health care providers offer plenty of advice on maintaining healthy sleep habits. Those who consume alcohol regularly, have a lack of physical activity or balanced diets will learn that all of these areas are important when it comes to developing healthy sleep habits.
The general advice from health care professionals includes adding exercise to your daily routine, avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar, and knowing how even small amounts of alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns.
VA health advice for establishing good sleep habits includes the following:
- Go to bed only when you are ready for sleep
- Do not use your bed or bedroom for activities other than sleep
- Get out of bed when you can’t fall asleep
- Get out of bed when you can’t stay asleep
- Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning
- Avoid naps
Not all sleep problems are due to a lack of exercise or other lifestyle choices. Some are considered sleep disorders and while lifestyle changes are commonly recommended as part of the treatment regimen, medication or other treatment may also be required depending on the nature of the problem and its severity.
Veterans who have hearing issues can apply to have hearing aids provided via the Department of Veterans Affairs. This program requires the veteran to register first. There are several options that can be used to register including:
- In person at any VA Medical Center or VA Clinic
- Online by filling out VA Form 10-10EZ
- By mailing a printed, completed VA Form 10-10EZ to the nearest VA Medical Center
You will need to provide the following documentation at registration time:
- DD214 or equivalent
- driver’s license
- health insurance where applicable
- Your signature
The signature issue is important enough that the VA official site reminds users to sign all of the 10-10EZ or it cannot be processed in any way.
Once registered, veterans can arrange appointments with the VA Audiology and Speech Pathology Clinic for hearing evaluation. A clinical determination will be made regarding the patient’s needs for hearing aids or assistive devices. In cases where hearing aids are recommended, the equipment and upkeep of VA-issued hearing aids is maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs encourages veterans to seek VA compensation for heat-related injuries they may have received in the line of duty if those injuries are responsible for other associated health problems as a result.
There are many places where American troops have been required to serve where the weather is extremely hot, dry, and difficult to cope with. Gulf War veterans, those who have served in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere likely know others who suffered from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, extreme sunburn, etc.
Those who have suffered heat-related injuries may develop a greater sensitivity to heat as a result which has the potential to create further heat-related problems down the line. The VA evaluates medical claims in this area on a case-by-case basis; any veteran in the process of submitting a medical claim should consider whether heat related injuries may have a hand in the development of new or other symptoms.
High Blood Pressure
The VA official site describes blood pressure as “the force of blood pushing against your blood vessels.” And when that force gets too high, it creates a condition known as hypertension. If blood pressure is not properly regulated, it can lead to:
- Kidney issues
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Eye problems
You can feel perfectly healthy even with high blood pressure and you may not be aware your pressure is too high without a doctor visit or a blood pressure check. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, exercise, or some combination of those along with medication designed to regulate blood pressure.
If you are a veteran considering a VA medical claim, don’t rule out high blood pressure as an area to seek compensation for, especially if it can be determined that the blood pressure issue is caused or aggravated by an injury or medical condition deemed to be service-connected.
HIV and AIDS are two important areas of concentration when it comes to treatment options offered to qualifying veterans via the Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the VA official site, “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leads the country in HIV/AIDS screening, testing, treatment, research and prevention.”
How does it do this? In part through programs that address HIV, hepatitis, and “related conditions.” VA HIV/AIDS work is done at VA medical facilities across the country including (but not limited to) the following:
- HIV screenings
- Testing for at-risk veterans and families
- Education for patients and families
- Furnishing up-to-date information about HIV to health care providers
- Support for research to improve clinical treatment options
HIV and AIDS are complicated issues and have different approaches on a case-by-case basis depending on a variety of factors. HIV works by taking over certain immune system cells called CD4 cells, or T cells. When a CD4 cell is taken over by HIV, the cell begins reproducing the virus which weakens the body.
AIDS is an advanced stage of HIV. The VA official site reminds, “The names HIV and AIDS can be confusing because both terms describe the same disease.” But having HIV does NOT mean you have AIDS.
According to the VA official site, AIDS is the advanced stage of infection which happens when the HIV infections have compromised the patient’s immune system to the point where it can no longer fight certain infections, cancers, or other issues. If you are concerned about HIV/AIDS, it’s best to see a medical professional as soon as possible to be screened and discuss options if the screening tests positive for HIV.
Hepatitis occurs when the liver becomes inflamed; there are a variety of causes for the condition including alcohol use, ingested or absorbed toxins, some medications, and some medical conditions. There are varieties of hepatitis caused by a virus including:
- hepatitis A
- hepatitis B
- hepatitis C
Around 66 thousand people per year will be infected with one of the three versions of hepatitis listed above. Hepatitis A and B have effective vaccines; this is not true of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis spreads by contact with body fluids, feces, etc. from an infected person. Hepatitis may be asymptomatic, meaning you may not have any way to tell you are infected. For certain strains of hepatitis, roughly half of those with the condition are unaware they have it.
There may be no acute care or treatment specifically for one or more strains of hepatitis; medical attention may be able to address symptoms only or be administered as supportive care. Some hepatitis treatments are only for chronic versions of the condition.
You can ask your primary care provider for a hepatitis screening if you are concerned you may have been exposed to hepatitis.
|VA Benefits Guide||State Veteran’s Benefits|
|VA Claim Exam||Best States with Veteran Benefits|
|How to Apply for Disability Pay||VA Priority Groups|