Serious medical conditions that occur infrequently now will become commonplace at TEOTWAWKI. Recognizing the symptoms will help you treat these diseases effectively. Better yet, learn how to prevent them and prepare accordingly.
It’s been over a year since you’ve escaped the city for your retreat. Things are going well, though your teenage daughter is tired of hauling water from the creek. One day you walk with her and are alarmed at how winded she becomes. She’s been acting fine otherwise, still primping and polishing her nails (though no boys are around). She hasn’t lost any weight and seems to be eating okay, though she’s become a vegetarian after watching you slaughter a pig. She has no history of asthma or heart disease, and shows no signs of respiratory infection. What’s the most likely diagnosis?
(see answers below)
Meanwhile, your toddler is starting to worry you. He was walking fine when you left the city, but now his legs are starting to bow like a cowboy’s. Your wife plans to continue breast-feeding him another year yet, believing it will benefit his immune system. Both of them have remained inside for months to avoid possible radiation exposure. What could be wrong?
It seems your mother is growing old before your very eyes. At the last minute she agreed to join your family, though she hadn’t done any prepping herself. Before, she always seemed full of pep. Now she doesn’t have the energy to help with anything. Even her voice sounds worn-out and a little hoarse. Another mouth to feed wasn’t what you had planned on, but you can’t set your mother out on the curb, can you?
1.) Shortness of breath occurs when either the lungs or the heart must work harder. In the absence of heart or lung disease, the most likely condition is iron deficiency anemia. Without enough blood, the heart must pump harder to keep what little blood remains circulating properly. Usually the heart rate increases, especially with exercise, and often the blood pressure drops. In a teenager wearing make-up and nail polish, you may not notice pallor (paleness). Vegetarians who are not careful to include iron-rich foods in their diet are prone to anemia, especially teenagers who prefer a high-starch diet. I’ve seen girls whose blood count has dropped to only a third of normal as a result of an iron-poor diet, with or without excess menstrual blood loss.
Normally a teen whose blood count has dropped low enough to cause shortness of breath would be transfused with red blood cells for quick relief. Untreated, extreme anemia will lead to congestive heart failure and possibly eventual death.
Fortunately dietary ingestion of iron will resolve the condition (or taking OTC iron pills such as ferrous sulfate 325 mg three times daily). Iron-rich foods include red meat, liver, dark leafy greens, prunes, raisins, egg yolks, iron-enriched cereal, beans, artichokes, lentils, soybeans, and chick peas. Make sure to stock foods your family will actually eat.