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Gulf War syndrome

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Gulf war syndrome is the name given to a variety of psychological and physical symptoms suffered by veterans of the Gulf War. The symptoms have been remarkably wide-ranging, sometimes somewhat ill-defined, and distinguished by the number of theories advanced as to their origin.

Various causes that have been suggested, some more likely than others:

A contrary view has been advanced, that GWS is not a physical illness, but a response to the stresses of war, and that similar syndromes have been seen as an after effect of many conflicts - for example, 'shell shock' after World War I, and post-traumatic stress disorder after the Vietnam War. If this were true, the unfortunate effect is that the psychologically based therapy that might help support those affected in their very real distress, is neglected in favour of a futile search for a non-existent physical cause: and repeated studies where a particular cause is found to be unconnected become regarded as further evidence for a cover-up by the authorities.

Another possibility is that some or all of the symptoms experienced are unrelated to service in the Gulf. A study for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence found no correlation between service in the Gulf and death from illness.

Although not identifying Gulf War syndrome by name, in June of 2003 the High Court of London[?] upheld a claim by Shaun Rusling[?] that the depression, eczema, fatigue, nausea and breathing problems that he experienced after returning from the Gulf War were attributed to his military service.

Relationship between Gulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

The symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome are remarkably similar to those associated with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) leading many to believe that they are in fact related, and both the results of toxic chemical exposure. This similarity, and the fact that there is no medical test that will diagnose either, has led some experts to believe that neither illness is physical but purely psychosomatic. Others believe that the cause of the illness is physical, although as yet unidentifiable, and that it will eventually be pinpointed, leading to the legitimisation of the illness and the development of successful treatments. This has occurred with asthma, allergies, repetitive strain injury and many other previously 'dubious' complaints.



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