10 Common Medical Conditions in Veterans

United States veterans often return home suffering from different conditions that civilians may not understand. Sometimes, those conditions don’t become apparent until long after the servicemen and women have retired. Below are ten common medical conditions in veterans. 

1. AL Amyloidosis

This condition occurs when amyloid proteins are deposited in tissues or organs. It affects things like the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs and joints. Symptoms often include fatigue, anemia, weight loss, numbness and tingling limbs. This condition tends to affect veterans who were exposed to herbicides. 

2. Brucellosis

This is a bacterial disease that can become chronic and persist for many years. Symptoms include profuse sweating and joint and muscle pain. It’s common in Gulf War veterans. 

3. Hodgkin’s Disease

This disease is actually a lymphatic system cancer. Its symptoms include fever, fatigue, itching, weight loss and swelling of the lymph nodes. It often affects veterans who were exposed to herbicides. 

4. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Studies have shown a link between military service and developing ALS. This progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects motor function in the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex. It causes weakness and atrophy. This fast-moving disease causes death within three to five years.

5. Parkinson’s Disease

This degenerative brain disorder causes shaking, stiffness and challenges walking and keeping balance. Symptoms are tremors in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face, stiffness in the limbs and slow movement. It is common in those who were exposed to herbicides.

6. Traumatic Brain Injury

This condition is common in veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. It’s caused generally by close contact with explosions. Symptoms include headache, blurred vision, loss of balance and slow thinking, speaking and reading.

7. Prostate Cancer

This cancer is the number one cancer in men. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and there are not always symptoms. Veterans that served in Korea or Vietnam who were exposed to herbicides have a risk of developing this cancer.

8. Depression

This highly treatable condition is common for veterans in every era, yet highly underdiagnosed. Symptoms include being persistently sad, irritable, changes in sleep, difficulty concentrating and feelings of guilt and hopelessness.

9. Respiratory Cancers

Evidence suggests a connection between veterans who were exposed to herbicides and those who develop respiratory cancer. These include lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus cancers. Dr. Spooner also notes that veterans may suffer from respiratory disorders such as asthma and chronic lung disease from exposure to particulates, dusts, and, chemicals and smoke during deployment- especially in the Gulf and Afghanistan. This is a new and concerning area which is affecting military members from our most recent conflicts.

10. Musculoskeletal Ailments

Fighting in a war can take a toll on your body. Around 60% of recent veterans were diagnosed with musculoskeletal ailments. These ailments include joint and back disorders. 

UnityPoint is proud to support veterans from every walk of life.