Agent Orange

Agent Orange is a type of herbicide. It was used throughout Vietnam during the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1971. The herbicide was used to kill vegetation that the enemy forces used for cover. After many military service people returned from the war, they began to experience an array of health problems. These problems are believed to be derived from exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide.

Symptoms of Agent Orange Exposure

Troublesome symptoms that many Vietnam veterans began to go through were neurological problems. These symptoms generally started off with blurry or burning vision with episodes of violence, anger, depression, frenzy, memory loss and lack of concentration. Some vets expressed episodes of severe personality changes and suicidal behavior. Tingling, numbness, headaches, twitching, and loss of sensation are also symptoms related to the neurological impact of Agent Orange exposure.

Intestinal Distress
Problems related to gastrointestinal distress were common among Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange. Some symptoms include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Some more extreme conditions include jaundice or a yellowing of the skin and extremities, hepatitis or liver inflammation, gastric hyperplasia, and ulcers.

Birth Defects
One unfortunate effect from Agent Orange exposure was the veterans passing along birth defects to their future offspring. These include an enlarged head, liver, cleft palate, hemorrhage, abnormal or missing digits on hands or feet and displaced or missing body parts or organs. Birth defects occurred in many pregnancies even without prior symptoms or knowledge of Agent Orange exposure.

Many veterans exposed to Agent Orange noticed vast changes in their skin. Symptoms included rashes, acne, hair loss, brittle nails or nails that fell off, changes in skin color and increased sensitivity to heat and direct sunlight. Veterans may have experienced all or only one of the symptoms.

One of the most troubling side effects of Agent Orange exposure is developing different types of cancer. Months and sometimes years after exposure, Vietnam veterans experienced symptoms at the onset or in some cases the advanced stages of their disease. Weight loss, chills, fever, skin growths, and tumors and extreme fatigue were some of the symptoms. Liver, lung, ear duct, and testicular cancer were some of the cancers that were believed to have arisen from Agent Orange



Veterans Benefits Administration (VA) assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran’s qualifying military service. We call these “presumptive diseases.”

The VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases.

  • AL Amyloidosis
    A rare disease caused when an abnormal protein, amyloid, enters tissues or organs
  • Chronic B-cell Leukemias
    A type of cancer which affects white blood cells
  • Chloracne(or similar acne-form disease)
    A skin condition that occurs soon after exposure to chemicals and looks like common forms of acne seen in teenagers. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
    A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
    A malignant lymphoma (cancer) characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, and by progressive anemia
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
    A disease characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain
  • Multiple Myeloma
    A cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
    A group of cancers that affect the lymph glands and other lymphatic tissue
  • Parkinson’s Disease
    A progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle movement
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-Onset
    A nervous system condition that causes numbness, tingling, and motor weakness. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of herbicide exposure.
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
    A disorder characterized by liver dysfunction and by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Under VA’s rating regulations, it must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of exposure to herbicides.
  • Prostate Cancer
    Cancer of the prostate; one of the most common cancers among men
  • Respiratory Cancers (includes lung cancer)
    Cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)
    A group of different types of cancers in body tissues such as muscle, fat, blood and lymph vessels, and connective tissues

The website containing this information is 2/10/19)

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