Section I. HEALTH MAINTENANCE
History has often demonstrated that the course of battle is influenced
more by the health of the troops than by strategy or tactics. Health is
largely a personal responsibility. Correct cleanliness habits, regular
exercise, and good nutrition have much control over a person's well-being.
Good health does not just happen; it comes with conscious effort and good
habits. This appendix outlines some basic principles that promote good
C-2. Personal Hygiene
a. Because of the close living quarters frequently found in an
Army environment, personal hygiene is extremely important. Disease or
illness can spread and rapidly affect an entire group.
b. Uncleanliness or disagreeable odors affect the morale of
workmates. A daily bath or shower assists in preventing body odor and is
necessary to maintain cleanliness. A bath or shower also aids in
preventing common skin diseases. Medicated powders and deodorants
help keep the skin dry. Special care of the feet is also important. You
should wash your feet daily and keep them dry.
C-3. Diarrhea and Dysentery
a. Poor sanitation can contribute to conditions which may
result in diarrhea and dysentery (a medical term applied to a number of
intestinal disorders characterized by stomach pain and diarrhea with
passage of mucus and blood). Medical personnel can advise regarding the
cause and degree of illness. Remember, however, that intestinal diseases
are usually spread through contact with infectious organisms which can
be spread in human waste, by flies and other insects, or in improperly
prepared or disinfected food and water supplies.
b. Keep in mind the following principles that will assist you in
preventing diarrhea and/or dysentery.
(1) Fill your canteen with treated water at every chance.
When treated water is not available you must disinfect the water in your
canteen by boiling it or using either iodine tablets or chlorine ampules.
Iodine tablets or chlorine ampules can be obtained through your unit
supply channels or field sanitation team.
C-4. Dental Hygiene
(2) DO NOT buy food, drinks, or ice from civilian vendors
unless approved by medical personnel.
(3) Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds after using the
latrine or before touching food.
(4) Wash your mess kit in a mess kit laundry or with
(5) Food waste should be disposed of properly (covered
container, plastic bags or buried) to prevent flies from using it as a
a. Care of the mouth and teeth by daily use of a toothbrush and
dental floss after meals is essential. This care may prevent gum disease,
infection, and tooth decay.
b. One of the major causes of tooth decay and gum disease is
plaque. Plaque is an almost invisible film of decomposed food particles
and millions of living bacteria. To prevent dental diseases, you must
effectively remove this destructive plaque.
C-5. Drug (Substance) Abuse
a. Drug abuse is a serious problem in the military. It affects
combat readiness, job performance, and the health of military personnel
and their families. More specifically, drug abuse affects the individual. It
costs millions of dollars in lost time and productivity.
b. The reasons for drug abuse are as different as the people who
abuse the use of them. Generally, people seem to take drugs to change the
way they feel. They may want to feel better or to feel happier. They may
want to escape from pain, stress, or frustration. Some may want to
forget. Some may want to be accepted or to be sociable. Some people take
drugs to escape boredom; some take drugs because they are curious. Peer
pressure can also be a very strong reason to use drugs.
c. People often feel better about themselves when they use
drugs or alcohol, but the effects do not last. Drugs never solve problems;
they just postpone or compound them. People who abuse alcohol or drugs
to solve one problem run the risk of continued drug use that creates new
problems and makes old problems worse.
d. Drug abuse is very serious and may cause serious health
problems. Drug abuse may cause mental incapacitation and even cause death.
C-6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) formerly known as venereal
diseases are caused by organisms normally transmitted through sexual
intercourse. Individuals should use a prophylactic (condom) during
sexual intercourse unless they have sex only within marriage or with one,
steady noninfected person of the opposite sex. Another good habit is to
wash the sexual parts and urinate immediately after sexual intercourse.
Some serious STDs include nonspecific urethritis (chlamydia), gonorrhea,
syphilis and Hepatitis B and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
(AIDS). Prevention of one type of STD through responsible sex, protects
both partners from all STD. Seek the best medical attention if any
discharge or blisters are found on your sexual parts.
a. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).l AIDS is the end disease stage of the HIV infection. The HIV infection is contagious,
but it cannot be spread in the same manner as a common cold, measles, or
chicken pox. AIDS is contagious, however, in the same way that sexually
transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, are contagious.
AIDS can also be spread through the sharing of intravenous drug needles
and syringes used for injecting illicit drugs.
b. High Risk Group. Today those practicing high risk behavior
who become infected with the AIDS virus are found mainly among
homosexual and bisexual persons and intravenous drug users.
Heterosexual transmission is expected to account for an increasing
proportion of those who become infected with the AIDS virus in the
(1) AIDS caused by virus. The letters A-I-D-S stand for
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. When a person is sick with
AIDS, he is in the final stages of a series of health problems caused by a
virus (germ) that can be passed from one person to another chiefly during
sexual contact or through the sharing of intravenous drug needles and
syringes used for "shooting" drugs. Scientists have named the AIDS
virus "HIV." The HIV attacks a person's immune system and damages
his ability to fight other disease. Without a functioning immune system
to ward off other germs, he now becomes vulnerable to becoming infected
by bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and other viruses and malignancies, which
may cause life-threatening illness, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and
(2) No known cure. There is presently no cure for AIDS.
There is presently no vaccine to prevent AIDS.
(3) Virus invades blood stream. When the AIDS virus
enters the blood stream, it begins to attack certain white blood cells
(T-Lymphocytes). Substances called antibodies are produced by the
body. These antibodies can be detected in the blood by a simple test,
usually two weeks to three months after infection. Even before the
antibody test is positive, the victim can pass the virus to others.
(4) Signs and Symptoms.
(5) AIDS: the present situation. The number of people
estimated to be infected with the AIDS virus in the United States is over
1.5 million as of April 1988. In certain parts of central Africa 50% of the
sexually active population is infected with HIV. The number of persons
known to have AIDS in the United States to date is over 55,000; of these,
about half have died of the disease. There is no cure. The others will soon
die from their disease. Most scientists predict that all HIV infected
persons will develop AIDS sooner or later, if they don't die of other
- Some people remain apparently well after infection
with the AIDS virus. They may have no physically apparent symptom of
illness. However, if proper precautions are not used with sexual contacts
and/or intravenous drug use, these infected individuals can spread the
virus to others.
- The AIDS virus may also attack the nervous system and cause
delayed damage to the brain. This damage may take years to develop and the
symptoms may show up as memory loss indifference, loss of coordination,
partial paralysis, or mental disorder. These symptoms may occur alone, or
with other symptoms mentioned earlier.
(6) Sex between men. Men who have sexual relations with
other men are especially at risk. About 70% of AIDS victims throughout
the country are male homosexuals and bisexuals. This percentage
probably will decline as heterosexual transmission increases. Infection
results from a sexual relationship with an infected person.
(7) Multiple partners. The risk of infection increases
according to the number of sexual partners one has, male or female. The
more partners you have, the greater the risk of becoming infected with
the AIDS virus.
(8) How exposed. Although the AIDS virus is found in
several body fluids, a person acquires the virus during sexual contact
with an infected person's blood or semen and possibly vaginal secretions
The virus then enters a person's blood stream through their rectum
vagina or penis. Small (unseen by the naked eye) tears in the surface
lining of the vagina or rectum may occur during insertion of the penis
fingers, or other objects, thus opening an avenue for entrance of the virus
directly into the blood stream.
(9) Prevention of sexual transmission--know your partner.
Couples who maintain mutually faithful monogamous relationships (only
one continuing sexual partner) are protected from AIDS through sexual
transmission. If you have been faithful for at least five years and your
partner has been faithful too, neither of you is at risk.
(10) Mother can infect newborn. If a woman is infected with
the AIDS virus and becomes pregnant, she has about a 50% chance of
passing the AIDS virus to her unborn child.
(11) Summary. AIDS affects certain groups of the
population. Homosexual and bisexual persons who have had sexual
contact with other homosexual or bisexual persons as well as those who
"shoot" street drugs are at greatest risk of exposure, infections and
eventual death. Sexual partners of these high risk individuals are at risk,
as well as any children born to women who carry the virus. Heterosexual
persons are increasingly at risk.
(12) Donating blood. Donating blood is not risky at all. You
cannot get AIDS by donating blood.
(13) Receiving blood. High risk persons and every blood
donation is now tested for the presence of antibodies to the AIDS virus.
Blood that shows exposure to the AIDS virus by the presence of
antibodies is not used either for transfusion or for the manufacture of
blood products. Blood banks are as safe as current technology can make
them. Because antibodies do not form immediately after exposure to the
virus, a newly infected person may unknowingly donate blood after
becoming infected but before his antibody test becomes positive.
(14) Testing of military personnel. You may wonder why the
Department of Defense currently tests its uniformed services personnel
for presence of the AIDS virus antibody. The military feels this
procedure is necessary because the uniformed services act as their own
blood bank in a combat situation. They also need to protect new recruits
(who unknowingly may be AIDS virus carriers) from receiving live virus
vaccines. HIV antibody positive soldiers may not be assigned overseas
(includes Alaska and Hawaii). They must be rechecked every six months
to determine if the disease has become worse. If the disease has
progressed, they are discharged from the Army (policy per AR 600-110).
This regulation requires that all soldiers receive annual education classes
Back to Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions