As we watch in amazement and excitement as the Chilean miners are brought to the surface, overcoming feelings of panic to ride their rescue capsule to the surface, several long-term health concerns remain. The miners will be brought to the hospital and monitored carefully over many months, with special consideration to overcoming the following_
1. Dehydration - the miners were living in 90 degree heat for over two months with only minimal hydration. Though they have received fluids, continues rehydration with electrolytes and fluids is essential.
2. Malnutrition - the miners have been fed carefully under medical supervision, but now must be renourished and examined for vitamin and mineral deficiencies including vitamin D from complete lack of sunlight.
3. Exposure to toxins including methane gas and carbon monoxide could lead to lung and neurological problems.
4. Underlying heart and lung problems, and diabetes could have been made much worse by the lack of medical care 2000 feet below the surface. A few of the miners have high blood pressure and one has kidney failure which can be made worse by dehydration, but so far they all look very good on rescue.
5. Post traumatic stress - the miners will be subject to fits of anxiety, sleeplessness, depersonalization, and flashbacks for many months afterward. Treatments will likely include psychotherapy, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications
6. The miners are at risk for blood clots because of inadequate exercise and sitting or lying in one position, though they did have regular exercise. They are already being treated with aspirin and compression stockings.
7. Decreased muscle tone can lead to lower blood pressure. Neuropathies (numbness of hands of feet) may also develop.
8. The risk of bacterial and viral infections is a concern because of the difficulties posed with hygiene in the miners camp.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of a new ebook: Swine Flu; the New Pandemic. Dr. Siegel is also the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic."Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com