A lot of preventive medicine in the U.S. Army is similar to civilian medicine, but when troops are traveling to exotic locations or are out on the battlefield, they encounter illnesses that most of us don't have to worry about. Think you know a lot about preventive Army medicine? Test your knowledge with this quiz!
All soldiers must be current on their malaria vaccines.
The medication that prevents malaria is not a vaccine but a preventive drug therapy, or Chemoprophylaxis. While soldiers do need to be current on more common vaccines, like measles, mumps and rubella, Army doctors normally only give the malaria medication if troops are moving to a location where the disease is prevalent.
Army doctors routinely test troops for STDs.
The Army performs routine tests for STDs and HIV, and it works to inform troops on prevention methods such as safe sex and not sharing needles.
Illness is second only to injury in debilitating troops.
Illnesses actually make up more of the medical problems soldiers experience than combat-related injuries. The Army refers to illness as Disease and Nonbattle Injury (DNBI).
Morphine is still the most popular treatment for managing pain in the Army.
While morphine is still the Army's No. 1 pain treatment, army doctors are increasingly using safer and less addictive alternatives, such as Novocain.
The Army considers mental health treatment a preventive therapy.
Soldiers, especially ones who have been in combat, are at high risk for psychological issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Behavioral health and suicide prevention are both important aspects of preventive medicine in the Army.
Soldiers all receive vaccines against yellow fever, flu and chicken pox.
All military personnel get the flu shot and the chicken pox vaccine, but doctors only vaccinate against yellow fever if troops are going to be heading to South America or Africa.
Soldiers in the field don't recycle wastewater, as this can lead to the spread of disease.
While soldiers don't drink gray water, the military does sometimes recycle shower and laundry water for washing if local public health law allows reusing wastewater.
The Army considers reducing its environmental impact a preventive health measure.
From air pollution to noise pollution, the Army tries to reduce its impact as part of its preventive medicine program. The logic here is that environmental pollution harms soldiers' health, so curbing its impact means healthier troops.
New technology helps Army doctors determine which patients need immediate treatment.
In place of bulky, impractical paper records, the U.S. Army is now using a paperless system called Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4). It allows Army physicians to keep lifelong medical records for all service members so they can prioritize and treat illness and injury more efficiently.
Preventive medicine is so critical to the Army that there are troops who specialize in preventing illness.
Preventive medicine technicians and preventive medicine officers are part of many units. In cases where the risk of illness is high, there might even be an entire preventive medicine team or battalion as part of the unit.
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