Gulf War Illness, or GWI, has always been a somewhat controversial topic in the medical community. It came to public attention shortly after the first Gulf War, when large numbers of former service men and women began to exhibit a wide range of bewildering symptoms. These symptoms included fatigue, muscle pain and impaired cognition, and they varied widely in severity.

The subject has always been somewhat controversial due to the mysterious nature of the illness. No one is quite sure what caused Gulf War syndrome, though many suggestions have been made. Most possibilities relate to trace amounts of chemical weapons or toxins, though psychological factors have also been implicated.

Complicating the issue is the fact that GWI presents few physical, observable symptoms. Musculoskeletal pain or fatigue cannot easily be examined or quantified, making it difficult for the disease to identified and diagnosed. And unfortunately, according to a new study, the debilitating symptoms have persisted even to the present day, more than twenty years after the close of the Gulf War.

The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that one-third of the surveyed Gulf War veterans reported the symptoms of GWI. Symptoms varied among individual cases, but in nearly all instances the veteran reported some symptoms that interfered with their mood or cognition.

Hopefully, continued research will be able to pinpoint the cause of GWI, and find a path to recovery. Until that time arrives, veterans suffering from this disorder can continue to seek out veteran’s disability benefits to help them cope with this debilitating disease.

Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Gulf War Illness,” Brian N. Smith, Jan. 2013