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  Gulf War Illness  
 
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | Conditions that suggest it | Contributing risk factors | It can lead to... | Recommendations

 

There are many theories as to the possible cause or combination of factors that have produced the Gulf War Illness (GWI) or Syndrome (GWS), none of which have yet been proven.

A significant proportion of U.S. military personnel who served in the Gulf War have reported various health problems following their service, some of which remain unexplained. Thousands of Gulf War veterans have experienced devastating and inexplicable ailments. Soldiers were exposed to a veritable witch's brew of known and potential health hazards. Of the 700,000 U.S. military personnel who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, between 100,000 and 300,000 have demonstrated a complex array of symptoms. Symptoms of GWI are all over the map. They include disabling fatigue, sleep problems, trouble with memory and concentration, pain, intestinal complaints, and other medical problems. Because different patients have different symptoms, the old name of the malady, Gulf War Syndrome -- was changed to Gulf War Illness.

A study by the State of Kansas has found that 34% of Gulf War veterans are affected by a pattern of symptoms linked to military service in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, and that the rate of illness differs by where and when veterans served during the war. Illness rates differed by where and when veterans served in the Gulf War. Overall, the lowest symptom rates were found in veterans who served in Desert Shield, but left the region before the air and ground wars began. Veterans who served on board ship also had lower rates of illness, on average. Highest rates were found in veterans who were in Iraq or Kuwait, 42% of whom reported Gulf War illness symptoms. According to Dr. Lea Steele, the epidemiologist who directed the study for the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs, “Differences in illness rates indicate that Gulf War-related health problems are not just randomly reported by all veterans, but are connected to different locations and experiences in the war."

There are several good sites on the Web offering information to veterans. One such site is the Gulf War Veteran Resource.
 

 
 

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Gulf War Illness:
 
 
Symptoms - Aging  Poor balance

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

  Vision disturbances

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

  Gums that bleed easily

Symptoms - Head - Nose

  Reduced sense of taste or smell

Symptoms - Metabolic

  Frequent/occasional unexplained fevers

Symptoms - Mind - General

  Trouble concentrating
  Periods of confusion/disorientation
  Short-term memory failure

Symptoms - Urinary

  Having blood in urine
 
 

Conditions that suggest Gulf War Illness:
 
 
Allergy  Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever

Autoimmune

  Autoimmune Tendency

Digestion

  Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion
  Diarrhea

Hormones

  Hypothyroidism

Immunity

  Weakened Immune System

Infections

  Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  Sinusitis

Mental

  Depression

Metabolic

  Edema (Water Retention)
  Headaches, Migraine/Tension
  Insomnia

Musculo-Skeletal

  Muscle Pains (Myalgia)
  Joint Pain, General

Nervous System

  Neuritis/Neuropathy

Organ Health

  Kidney Weakness / Disease

Personal Background

Counter-indicators:
  Absence of Gulf War Illness

Respiratory

  Asthma

Skin-Hair-Nails

  Night Sweats
  Rashes
  Female Hair Loss
 
 

Risk factors for Gulf War Illness:
 
 
Circulation  Hypercoagulation (Thickened Blood)

Infections

  Mycoplasma Infection

Lab Values - Chemistries

  Trace/significant amounts of occult blood or history of occult blood

Symptoms - Metabolic

  Recent unexplained weight loss

Symptoms - Mind - General

Counter-indicators:
  Absence of short-term memory loss

Symptoms - Urinary

  History of having blood in urine
 
 

Gulf War Illness can lead to:
 
 
Allergy  Environmental Illness / MCS

Immunity

  Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Mental

  Depression

Nervous System

  Bell's Palsy

Risks

  Cancer / Risk - General Measures
 
 

Recommendations for Gulf War Illness:
 
 
Drug  Antibiotics
 Some researchers have hypothesized that some of the veterans suffering from Gulf War illness are infected with a bacteria known as mycoplasma. A number of private physicians have reported success in alleviating Gulf War Illness symptoms using this treatment approach.
 
 


KEY
Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Weakly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
Likely to help