Gulf War Syndrome – Is it Real?

gulf war syndrome

Since decades, scientists have encountered a big variety of medical problems that have occurred either naturally or after historical events. One of these is the gulf war syndrome, which was first diagnosed by doctors in the US soldiers that fought against Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq during the Persian-Gulf War of the 1990s.

According to the reports on the syndrome, around one-third of the soldiers experienced strange symptoms that doctors could not attribute to a single existent health condition.

The soldiers had symptoms such as digestive problems, fatigue, cognitive issues, muscle pain, inability to think, brain fog, and insomnia. Initially, researchers thought the problem was the same as CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome because of the similarity in some of the symptoms.

However, the cause and origin of the disease are still not known and are assumed to be much different than of CFS. Now, a new study has shown that the previous theories regarding the gulf war syndrome may be wrong.

The research, which was conducted by researchers from the Georgetown University Medical Centre, shows that patients of the syndrome do not have the same neural activity following a memory test as that of those with the chronic fatigue syndrome.

Previously, the team’s study from 2017 had also shown similar findings and concluded that the CFS and GWI are two different issues even though they may share some similar signs.

Now, the researchers have investigated further on the matter in the new study by looking at different brain scans of people with GWI and CFS.

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In the scans, it was found that soldiers that had participated in the war and later developed symptoms of GWI had changes in the part of the brain responsible for controlling cognition, pain, and emotion as well as a processing region known as periaqueductal gray.

On the other hand, people with CFS had changes in different parts of the brain that control vigilance, attention, and the region known as periaqueductal gray. These findings are published in the journal Brain Communications.

Though the investigation now shows that the conditions are indeed different from one and another, scientists still emphasize the need for further research to know more about what exactly causes the alterations in the brain after GWI.

Till now, the European Molecular Biology Organization has given a theory that the syndrome may be a result of events occurring during the war.

The Persian Gulf war started after the Saddam Hussein regime invaded Kuwait. Historians state that the regime was interested in taking over oil fields around Kuwait since Iraq was in debt after the previous war with Iran.

One of the most popular images that were later associated with the war was of Saddam’s forces set fire to Kuwaiti oil fields. The burning of oil fields released toxins and chemicals and thousands of soldiers were exposed.

The European Molecular Biology Organization states that the exposure may explain the emergence of gulf war syndrome as it may be “linked to exposure to depleted uranium, pesticides, vaccines, particulate matter and gases from burning oil wells, biological and chemical weapons, and the anti-nerve-gas drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB).”

However, this is just a theory, and a single cause for the syndrome has still not been found yet. The new research can add to more knowledge about the issue and help in establishing different diagnosis and treatment methodologies for GWI.

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