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Symptoms of Agent Orange in Vietnam Veterans

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie Boehlke is a seasoned copywriter and content creator based in the Great Lakes state. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Boehlke has more than 10 years of professional writing experience on topics such as health and wellness, green living, gardening, genealogy, finances, relationships, world travel, golf, outdoors and interior decorating. She has also worked in geriatrics and hospice care.
Symptoms of Agent Orange in Vietnam Veterans
Symptoms of Agent Orange in Vietnam Veterans Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

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 war, they began to experience an array of health problems. These problems are believed to be derived from exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide.


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 to 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.

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