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Published on July 27, 2023

8 Things Military Veterans Should Get Checked for at Their Annual Physical

Military veterans have served bravely, often at the expense of their health. While acknowledging their service, we often neglect its toll on their well-being. Unique health risks arise from the specific conditions they’ve faced in service.

These risks aren’t always immediately apparent but can have lasting impacts. Thus, healthcare providers must consider these unique aspects when conducting annual physical exams.

This discussion outlines several key health checks veterans should undergo each year. These tests can lead to early detection of potential health problems, allowing for effective treatment and improved overall health.

Lung Function and Potential Asbestos Exposure

The lungs play an essential role in delivering oxygen to our body, a function that may be compromised due to certain respiratory conditions. The military environment, especially in the past, was laden with asbestos, a fibrous material historically used for insulation and fireproofing.

Veterans who served during that period may have unknowingly breathed in these harmful fibers, posing a potential risk to their lung health. These fibers can remain dormant in the lungs, triggering health complications years later, like mesothelioma. While it’s not a common condition, the late manifestation of symptoms is a concern.

Therefore, consistent monitoring of lung function becomes paramount for veterans. In case of any irregularities, reach out to mesothelioma specialists who are well-versed in asbestos-related conditions.

Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Stress and physical strain are key components of military life. Such conditions can often lead to an elevated risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases among veterans. Hypertension, if unchecked, can strain the heart, potentially leading to heart disease over time.

The danger often lies in the silent nature of these conditions—they may not present noticeable symptoms until a serious event occurs. Therefore, veterans must check their blood pressure and cholesterol levels routinely. These check-ups serve as the first line of defense, flagging deviations from normal ranges early on.

Timely detection and management can prevent these potential risks from spiraling into grave health issues. Veterans should aim for an annual physical, where these aspects of their health are carefully assessed and addressed.

Hearing and Visual Health

In the heat of military service, veterans face environments filled with deafening noises from explosions and firearms. This continuous exposure often affects their auditory health, sometimes leading to gradual hearing loss.

While its effects may not be immediately evident, it can significantly impair their quality of life. Thus, regular hearing examinations are a must to identify any potential loss and mitigate further damage.

Alongside this, maintaining visual health is equally essential. Visual impairment can occur, whether it’s due to accidental injuries during service or exposure to extreme conditions. Routine eye screenings can catch any vision abnormalities, like refractive errors or even early signs of more severe eye conditions.

Assessing Mental Well-being

Navigating life after military service can be challenging for veterans. Often, they carry psychological scars from traumatic experiences they encountered during service. Issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are unfortunately common among veterans.

These mental health struggles can seriously impact their daily lives and relationships if left unaddressed. That’s why regular mental health evaluations are crucial. These assessments can identify any distress signs early on, opening avenues for timely intervention and support.

Monitoring Musculoskeletal Health

Being in the military is physically taxing, pushing the human body to its limits. The strenuous training, carrying heavy equipment, and the sheer physicality of service often lead to musculoskeletal discomfort among veterans. From persistent backaches to joint pain, these issues can constantly hinder their daily lives, impacting their mobility and overall well-being.

That’s why routine musculoskeletal health evaluations are vital. These checks help identify the problem areas and gauge the extent of the discomfort or injury. Further, these evaluations can guide effective treatment plans, from physiotherapy to pain management strategies.

Importance of Skin Health Checks

Skin, our body’s largest organ, is often exposed to multiple stressors in the military environment. Whether it’s extreme weather conditions, exposure to potentially harmful substances, or simply the wear and tear of active duty, veterans can experience a range of skin conditions. These may include anything from minor rashes to more complex dermatological issues.

Therefore, regular skin health checks are key. A thorough dermatological examination can identify early signs of skin abnormalities, from unusual moles to rashes or dry patches. Timely detection facilitates early treatment and helps prevent any potential progression into more severe conditions.

Assessing Gastrointestinal Health

A soldier’s gastrointestinal (GI) health can be challenged due to the demanding nature of military service, leading to digestive discomfort. These may present as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or other GI disorders.

Changes in diet, stress, and exposure to unfamiliar environments can exacerbate these conditions. A regular gastrointestinal health assessment can help identify these conditions early.

From a simple conversation about eating habits and digestive health to more comprehensive examinations, these checks allow health practitioners to diagnose and treat GI issues effectively. Addressing digestive health problems promptly not only alleviates physical discomfort but also contributes to improved overall health and quality of life.

Assessment of Neurological Health

The battlefield, unfortunately, can bring about certain neurological conditions due to traumatic brain injuries. Conditions such as epilepsy, migraines, and other neurological disorders may become a part of a veteran’s life.

Regular neurological evaluations can play a crucial role in managing these conditions. During these assessments, medical professionals conduct various tests to check for neurological health, assessing the functioning of nerves, reflexes, sensation, balance, and other aspects related to the nervous system.

Regular assessments can help detect the onset or progression of neurological issues, allowing for timely interventions. Appropriate treatment and management strategies can then be implemented, facilitating a better quality of life for the veterans.

Conclusion

Regular check-ups are essential for military veterans. These examinations help identify and manage conditions related to lung function, cardiovascular health, sensory abilities, mental health, musculoskeletal health, endocrine function, dermatology, gastrointestinal health, and neurological health. As a veteran, your health should be a top priority. Stay proactive, seek medical attention when needed, and ensure your well-being for the years to come.


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