Agent Orange and
Neuropathy (nerve damage)
it happened and what can be done for relief
Almost 20 million gallons of
herbicides were dumped on Vietnam between 1962 and
1971 to kill jungle foliage with the aim of exposing
enemy targets. It was used to prevent the
communist forces from using the jungle for cover, to
destroy their food supply and to clear areas of the
jungle for U.S. occupation.
The U.S. Army
heavily sprayed areas of inland forest in the
demarcation zone, along the borders of Cambodia, Laos
and South Vietnam and areas north and northwest of
Saigon. There was also heavy spraying in the mangrove
forests on the southernmost peninsula of Vietnam and
along the major shipping channels southeast of Saigon.
Shortly following their military
service in Vietnam, some veterans reported a variety
of health problems and concerns which some of them
attributed to exposure to Agent Orange or other
Agent Orange contains
dioxin, which has known biological and physical
Both Vietnamese citizens and war veterans
have experienced health problems as a result of Agent
Orange exposure. Health problems include birth
defects, skin diseases and peripheral neuropathy.
Agent Orange may also be responsible for some
instances of Parkinson's and heart diseases.
Neurological Effects of Agent Orange
According to the World Health
Organization, short-term exposure to high levels of
dioxins causes skin damage and altered liver function.
Long-term exposure causes immune system impairment and
damage to the nervous, endocrine and reproductive
systems in developing fetuses. Dioxin is also a known
According to the VA, there are several diseases
associated specifically with Agent Orange exposure,
including Hodgkin's disease, chronic lymphocytic
leukemia and type 2 diabetes. Agent Orange also causes a neurological disorder known
as acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy.
Agent Orange has recently been linked to an elevated
risk for Parkinson's, another neurological disorder.
Symptoms and effects of Agent Orange exposure may take
months or even years to appear.
Acute and Subacute
Peripheral neuropathy is
damage to the peripheral nervous system, which
consists of the nerves that transmit information from
the central nervous system to the rest of the body.
The peripheral nervous system carries sensory messages
and motor impulses. When this system is damaged, it
can cause numbness and weakness in the limbs and nerve
pain. The peripheral nervous system also controls the
heartbeat, and damage to this system could result in
heart rate irregularities.
What can you do about neuropathy or nerve damage?
for more information and help
What treatment can a veteran get for other symptoms
associated with chemical exposure? Go to:
Find out more about the
For a support group
- Neuropathy Support Group
The founding director is Eugene B. Richardson BA, MDiv, EdM, MS (Counseling Psychology), LtCol, USA (Retired). He is a retired Vice President of Operations for Westminster Services of Orlando, Florida (formally Presbyterian Retirement Services).
He is a twenty-seven year military veteran and veteran of the Vietnam War, diagnosed with a progressive chronic peripheral neuropathy resulting in severe disability.
This diagnosis has been confirmed as due to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam (67-68) by his treating neuromuscular neurologist. In 2010 his diagnosis was recognized by Veterans Affairs as service connected.
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