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Rescued Chilean Miners in Good Health
Date:10/14/2010

retinas when they returned to the mouth of the mine, CNN reported.

While the rescue workers and the medical team on site tried to anticipate any potential physical problems, the psychological problems facing the miners may be more challenging, experts said.

"The initial problems, such as being short of breath because of some potential lung problems, and problems of low blood pressure causing dizziness or fainting, were really planned well for," said Dr. Shirin Shafazand, an assistant professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"They have tried to think about problems that can happen immediately and provide some preventive measures," Shafazand said. "What is important now are the medium- and long-range problems they might have."

The miners should have their kidney and heart functions evaluated, Shafazand said. And, she thinks that living underground for so long may have disrupted the miners' circadian rhythm, or internal clocks. "Our bodies need the day and night cue to set the biological clock, by which we sleep and release hormones," she said.

As the men readjust from the long period of confinement, some may struggle with sleep problems, and "that can contribute to anxiety or depression," Shafazand said.

Dr. Jon Shaw, professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, also pointed to the possibility of psychological problems.

Some of the miners may have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Shaw said. "There may be recurrent nightmares, intrusive thoughts, reminiscences of experiences down there, where there must have been moments where they felt absolutely hopeless and helpless," he said.

"Paradoxical as it may seem," he added, "there will be some sense of loss, because they apparently achieved a sense of group solidarity, group cohesiveness -- they have become a band of brothers."

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