Find common veterans health and medical topics starting with the letter L that are related to military service history. The guide covers health topics from A to Z. Read on for more information about Liver Disease, Lupus, Lyme Disease and other medical issues that begin with “L”.
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.
LGBT Veteran Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs reminds veterans on its official site that all vets are welcome regardless of how they identify. The VA official site states, “Sexual and gender minority Veterans have faced stigma and discrimination, which can affect health. As a healthcare institution, we need to work to make sure that Veterans with LGBT and related identities know that they are welcome at VA.” The official site also states that there is a VA LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator “at every facility to help you get the care you need.”
VA medical services for LGBT vets include:
- Hormone treatment
- Substance use/alcohol treatment
- Tobacco use treatment
- Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/PrEP
- Intimate partner violence reduction and treatment of after effects
- Heart health
- Cancer screening, prevention and treatment
LGBT veterans face elevated risk of certain health issues due to higher levels of stress, discrimination, and stigmatization. The VA identifies these additional risk factors and works with LGBT vets to provide the best VA care possible.
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Left ventricular hypertrophy is the clinical term for enlargement and thickening of the walls of the human heart’s main pumping chamber. This chamber is known to doctors as the left ventricle. This type of condition is the result of factors that cause the left ventricle to work harder than normal. These factors may include uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, and related issues. As the stress on the left ventricle increases, the thicker the muscle tissue gets there. Enlarged heart muscles can lose their flexibility and over time can lose the ability to pump as hard as needed.
Left ventricular hypertrophy can result in being at higher risk of a stroke or having a heart attack. There may be no symptoms in the early stages but as the condition worsens you may experience some or all of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain, often after exercising
- Sensation of rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats (palpitations)
Get medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- You feel chest pain that lasts more than a few minutes
- You have severe difficulty breathing
- You have severe lightheadedness
- You lose consciousness
Lupus is the name of an autoimmune condition where the human body’s immune system attacks the body itself.
Lupus can affect the joints, skin, lungs, kidneys, blood cells, brain, and heart. The condition can be difficult to identify since a range of symptoms are common to other medical issues. Lupus can be triggered by certain illnesses or infections, medication, and according to the Mayo Clinic even sun exposure may trigger the condition. Some people are more prone to developing Lupus than others.
Symptoms of Lupus include, but may not be limited to:
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Butterfly-shaped rash on the face affecting the cheeks and bridge of the nose
- Rashes elsewhere on the body
- Skin lesions appearing or worsening as a result of sun exposure
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue during stress or cold weather
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Memory loss
If you have an unexplained rash, ongoing fever, persistent aching, or constant fatigue, seek medical attention right away. Remember, Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, it is not an infectious or contagious disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is described as a form of severe pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria, spread through inhalation. It is not spread via human-to-human contact. Instead, it is often transmitted via microscopic water droplets (and sometimes soil) that carry legionella bacteria. This transmission can come through a shared shower, water faucets, and ventilation systems. Other potential sources of transmission include:
- Hot tubs and whirlpools on cruise ships
- Grocery store produce mist machines
- Air conditioning systems
- Fountains and swimming pools
- Physical therapy equipment
- Shared water systems in hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
If you are exposed to the bacteria, you may develop symptoms within two to ten days that include but are not limited to:
- Muscle pain
- Fever that may be 104 F (40 C) or higher
As the condition progresses you may develop the following symptoms (usually within two to three days):
- Cough, which may bring up mucus and/or blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Confusion or other mental changes
Legionella bacterium also causes a version of this condition, commonly referred to as Pontiac fever, this is described by the Mayo Clinic as “a milder illness resembling the flu. Separately or together, the two illnesses are sometimes called legionellosis.”
Pontiac fever may go away untreated, but the same cannot be said of legionnaires’s disease, which can be fatal without medical attention. Seek medical help as soon as possible if you experience symptoms-doing so may shorten the recovery period and prevent serious complications.
Those at high risk for legionnaire’s disease include anyone with a compromised immune system, people over 50, smokers, and those with lung disease.
Leukemia is a form of cancer which develops in blood-forming tissues including bone marrow and the lymphatic system, usually involving white blood cells which do not function properly. There are multiple varieties of Leukemia-some are considered childhood-specific, others occur mostly in grown adults.
Leukemia has more than one classification-the diagnosis will be based on the speed of progression and the type of cells affected/involved.
- Acute leukemia – The abnormal blood cells are immature blood cells which cannot carry out their normal functions. These cells multiply rapidly and the condition requires quick treatment.
- Chronic leukemia – Chronic leukemia may produce too many cells while other versions of the disease cause too few cells to be produced. This form of leukemia involves mature blood cells and there may be no early symptoms.
- Lymphocytic leukemia – This type of leukemia affects the lymphoid cells that make up your body’s immune system.
- Myelogenous (my-uh-LOHJ-uh-nus) leukemia – This type of leukemia affects myeloid cells which are connected to the creation of white and red blood cells
The symptoms of Leukemia may vary-much depends on the nature of the disease but common symptoms include:
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
Many symptoms may be present in other medical conditions; the ones listed here are not exclusive to leukemia. Your early physical reactions to a developing leukemia issue may mimic flu or other short-term illnesses. Seek medical advice if you experience any persistent signs or symptoms of the symptoms above or other recurring issues that cause concern.
The liver is a large organ responsible for ridding your body of toxic substances. Diseases of the liver have a multitude of causes including genetics, damage to the liver, viruses, substance abuse, etc. Liver damage can result in scars that are commonly referred to as cirrhosis of the liver, This condition can be life-threatening.
Causes of liver disease include infections, parasites, etc. Hepatitis A, Hep B, and Hep C are all common kinds of liver problems. Other types of liver-related issues are caused by autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Where genetics play a part in liver disease, the following conditions may exist:
- Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis
- Wilson’s disease
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Cancer is also a problem:
- Liver cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Liver adenoma
Signs and symptoms of liver disease include:
- Skin and eyes that appear yellow or jaundiced
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Swollen legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale stool color
- Bloody or tar-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to bruise easily
When to see a doctor:
Seek immediate medical attention if you have abdominal pain that is so severe that sitting still is impossible. There are many possible causes for liver disease, your doctor will need to run tests, discuss lifestyle and other important factors, and make a plan for recovery depending on the diagnosis.
Lyme disease is caused by four main species of bacteria. Two of those – Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii cause Lyme disease in the United States. Another two types, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii, are said to be the leading causes of Lyme disease in Europe and Asia. Lyme disease is spread by ticks, and those who spend a lot of time outdoors are more prone to Lyme disease than those who do not live and/or work in grassy or woodland areas.
Symptoms of Lyme disease includes a “bull’s eye rash” which can spread over time to approximately 12 inches wide. Other symptoms may take the form of a lump that could be mistaken for a mosquito bite; often they are tick bites that do not necessarily indicate Lyme disease but symptoms may appear that do:
- A rash forming up to 30 days after an infected tick bite.
- Flu-type symptoms such as fever, headaches, chills, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
Untreated, more symptoms may appear:
- Erythema migrans spreading to other areas of your body
- Joint pain and swelling in the knees
- Shifting pain from one joint to another
- Neurological problems such as Bell’s Palsy
- Numbness or weakness in the extremities, and impaired muscle movement
See a doctor if you have encountered a tick and have symptoms similar to those described above. The Mayo Clinic advises patients to consult a physician even if your symptoms go away – the lack of symptoms does not mean you do not have Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can be prevented by decreasing your exposure to ticks and other insects. Cover up as much as possible while outdoors, use insect repellent. Inspect your clothing after outdoors activities and shower as soon as possible once indoors.
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