Our A to Z guide on veterans’ health and medical topics continues here with the letter D. Read on for more information about deep vein thrombosis, diabetes and other medical issues that begin with “D.”
Editor’s note: Veteran.com does not provide medical advice or diagnoses. This page contains general information related to common conditions affecting veterans. No information in this guide should replace advice from your health care provider.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the body’s deep veins, causing swelling or redness – usually in the leg. The condition can be life-threatening if a clot breaks loose and travels to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Smoking, injury, surgery, inactivity or increased estrogen due to medication, pregnancy or hormone replacement therapy can put you at risk of developing blood clots, the Mayo Clinic said. But not every blood clot means you have DVT. DVT only affects deep veins in the lower legs, thighs, arms or pelvis.
Military members and families may be more susceptible to DVT due to prolonged air travel or surgeries and catheterizations for service-connected injuries.
Proper diet, exercise and avoiding smoking can help prevent blood clots and DVT, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Can You Qualify for a VA Disability for Blood Clots?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said it does not consider blood clots a disability. However, if your blood clots result from an injury or illness that you incurred while serving in the military, you may be eligible to receive benefits for that condition.
VA Disability Ratings for Blood Clots and DVT
There is no specific disability rating for blood clots or DVT. The VA rates the condition on the effects it has on the body, according to the VA Disability Group, a VA disability law firm.
For example, if a veteran has DVT in their leg that causes pain and difficulty walking, they may be given a disability rating for limb impairment. If the DVT is in the lungs and causes shortness of breath, the Veteran may be issued a disability rating for respiratory impairment. The severity of the symptoms will determine the disability rating.
How to Get VA Disability Benefits for DVT
If you are a veteran who suffers from deep vein thrombosis, you may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits.
To qualify for benefits, your diagnosis of DVT must cause a symptom that interferes with your daily life, according to the VA Disability Group. You will then need to provide evidence to the VA that your DVT is service-connected, which means that some aspect of your military service caused or aggravated the condition.
Gather supporting documentation, including medical records and statements from loved ones, colleagues or supervisors who can attest to how your condition may have impacted your daily routine, work or hobbies.
Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, you will need to file a claim with the VA.
To file for benefits, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC. You don’t need to do this if you plan to file your claim online. Beginning an online application for disability benefits notifies the VA of your intent to file.
It’s important to keep in mind that you must submit your VA claim within one year of your effective date.
You can file your claim online or deliver your completed VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, by mail or in person at your closest VA regional office.
Address mail-in forms to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
The VA will then review your case and determine if you qualify for benefits.
Deafness and Hearing Damage
Aging, heredity, illness, medication, noise and traumatic brain injury can all cause hearing loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tinnitus, which can cause you to hear noises (often ringing) in your ears, is often caused by loud noises.
Occupational noise associated with the military includes jet engine noise, explosions, gunfire or prolonged exposure to noise from power tools.
Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For example, a loud noise or event (like a concert) can damage the hair cells in our ears and can affect our hearing for a few days, while prolonged exposure to noise can destroy those cells and lead to gradual, permanent hearing loss.
According to the VA, “hearing issues [hearing loss combined with tinnitus] are the most frequently found service-connected disability among American veterans.” If your hearing loss or tinnitus is service-related, you may be eligible for disability compensation.
Delirium tremens, also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium or, more commonly, the DTs, is a serious and potentially life-threatening consequence of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms include mental confusion, hallucinations, severe agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and fever.
About half of people with alcohol dependence will develop withdrawal symptoms – such as sweating and tremors – when they stop drinking. Only about 5% will develop delirium tremens, according to a study published in U.S. Pharmacist. Symptoms of DTs usually occur within two or three days after stopping alcohol consumption and last 48 to 72 hours.
Mortality rates in the past have been as high as 15%, but with advances in treatment, they have dropped to 1-5%, according to a study published in American Family Physician. Treatment can include IV fluids and medication.
Other conditions, including central nervous system infection, hemmorrage or some thyroid disorders can cause similar symptoms, according to the American Family Physician article.
Those who have had alcohol abuse issues for a prolonged period of time, who have more severe alcohol dependences or who are older are at increased risk for developing the DTs.
Dementia isn’t a disease but a catch-all term for “a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities enough to interfere with your daily life,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Several diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, can cause dementia. Head injury can also cause dementia symptoms and can also increase your risk for developing dementia when you are older.
Symptoms vary depending on the cause. Common symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include memory loss, difficulty with communication, problem-solving, coordination and organization and confusion.
The VA health offers health care services for veterans with progressive dementia, including home-based care, respite care and nursing homes. The VA recommends planning ahead for safety, living arrangements, care and medical choices.
The VA said other dementias may be reversed or cured with proper treatment. These include dementia caused by depression; certain medications or alcohol or drug use, poor eating habits; some infections, such as Lyme disease; and heart, lung or thyroid disease.,
Dental Issues for Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom
Veterans who recently served may be eligible for one course of free dental care, according to the VA. This applies to service members who have served 90 days or more of active duty who did not receive a dishonorable discharge. Your DD-214 must show that you did not get all the dental treatment you needed prior to separation. Qualified veterans must apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for this dental care benefit within 180 days of separation.
If your dental issues are service-related, you may qualify for any needed dental care, according to the VA. This also applies if you are a former prisoner of war or receive disability compensation at the 100% disabling rate due to a service-related condition. You may qualify for some dental benefits in other limited situations.
Depleted Uranium Exposure
Some service members may have been exposed to environmental hazards during their military service. One of these potential exposures is depleted uranium (DU), which is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process.
During the Gulf War, the U.S. military began using DU on a large scale to make bullets and tank armor.
While depleted uranium has less radioactivity than natural uranium, it still poses a potential health risk if it enters the body, such as through inhalation, ingestion or shrapnel, according to the VA.
The VA lists a variety of ways in which exposure can occur, including:
- Being in or in close proximity to a military vehicle hit with friendly fire
- Being in close proximity to burning vehicles or DU munitions
- Salvaging damaged military vehicles
Additionally, there is a known DU contamination at Karshi Khanabad (K-2) Air Base in Uzbekistan, caused by the destruction of missiles by the Soviets, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Public Health. Service members who were stationed there are eligible for DU testing.
The VA identifies the following campaigns as being an elevated risk for exposure:
- Gulf War
- Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
- Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
- Operation New Dawn (OND)
If you suspect you have been exposed to depleted uranium in any capacity, it’s important to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs immediately. You can contact a local VA Environmental Health Coordinator near you to discuss your concerns. You may be eligible for the Depleted Uranium Follow-Up Program.
Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that can affect your ability to function at work or home.
The National Alliance On Mental Illness lists several possible symptoms of depression, which must be present for at least two weeks to be considered depression. These include the following:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
According to (NAMI), active-duty service members are up to five times more likely to experience depression than civilians. Other factors that contribute to depression include trauma, genetics, medical conditions and drug or alcohol misuse.
Fortunately, depression is treatable. Treatment options, according to NAMI, include psychotherapy or cognitive behavior therapy, medications, exercise and alternative therapies.
Insulin regulates your body’s blood sugar levels. If your body cannot produce insulin or use it properly, the sugar remains in the bloodstream rather than entering your cells. The resulting elevated sugar levels can lead to serious complications, including blindness and organ damage.
According to the VA, there are three kinds of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body makes little or no insulin, so doctors may detect it in childhood. Patients require daily insulin injections. Most adults (90-95%) with diabetes have Type 2, which occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Being overweight puts you at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.
If you developed Type 2 diabetes after exposure to certain herbicides used in military conflict, such as Agent Orange, you may be eligible for disability compensation, according to the VA. Surviving family members may be eligible for survivors’ benefits.
Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 include blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger and weight loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see a medical professional. You can manage diabetes with medication, lifestyle changes, exercise and frequent blood sugar monitoring.
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