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What is Gulf War Illness

The veteran illnesses that are included in this category include:
  • ME/CFS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders
  • A multi-system illness with no clear diagnostic criteria
Researchers and the U.S. Veterans Administration is referring to all of these as "chronic multi-system illnesses."

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, about 25% of the 697,000 men and women who served in the first Gulf War between August 1990 to June 1991 came down with illnesses associated with their service in Southwest Asia. See how they define the illness for benefits purposes.

Additionally, some veterans who served in the more recent Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn have developed symptoms of hard-to-diagnose neuro-endocrine-immune illnesses.

Some infectious diseases are also included as Gulf War illnesses, also known as Gulf War syndrome, for the veterans who served in the specified time. These include bucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxialla burnetii, malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile virus.


While the cause is still not known, research shows it is primarily neurological and there is a possible link to hazardous exposures during service time. Gulf War illnesses also occur among veterans from the UK, Australia, Canada and Denmark who served in Southwest Asia.

What are Gulf War illness symptoms?

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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