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Rescued Miners Safe, but May Face Continued Health Problems


The world watched yesterday and today as 33 miners were extracted from a collapsed mine in Chile where they have been trapped since August 5th, 2010. For 17 days, no one knew if they were even alive, but they survived and were rescued – being brought to the surface one at a time over a period of several hours. But, unfortunately for some, the trauma is not over. Health experts predict that the miners will have a long recovery process and that health concerns linger due to their lack of sunlight, nutrition, sleep, and sanitation during the 69 days they were underground.

Overall, Rescued Chilean Miners Appear in Good Health

During the miners entrapment, they took efforts to stay as healthy as possible, including exercising and daily blood and urine tests by paramedic Yonni Barrios. According to CNN, the miners also gave each other support during the ordeal.

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Extensive precautions were taken to minimize health concerns while the miners were trapped, according to Health Minister Jaime Manalich. Chilean nurses were in the mine to help evaluate each worker and help prepare for their trip to the surface. They were fed a liquid diet just before the rescue to prevent vomiting and the miners wore special sunglasses to protect their retinas as they emerged into the sunlight. They were also given protective clothing to wear to prevent skin infections and took a series of shots, including flu and tetanus.

During the ascent, panic attacks were among the greatest concerns. Some miners experienced slight increases in blood pressure and cardiac activity during the trip, but all appear to have recovered satisfactorily after a few minutes of rest. Blood clots were also a concern, and miners were given aspirin as a blood thinner.

Although, so far, all of the miners appear to be in good health, says Manalich, each of them will spend the next 48 hours under medical observation. Some of the most common problems are anemia and sleep deprivation. The miners are at risk also for pulmonary issues from poor air quality, depressed immune systems, fungal infections, and malnutrition, particularly of vitamin D.

Chile has promised that the care of the miners will not end for at least six months, to ensure that each has readjusted both mentally and physically. Psychiatrists warn that the miners are at a high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and difficulties being introduced back into society.