What is Gulf War Illness (GWI)?
Approximately 25-30% of Veterans of Operation Desert Storm – the 1991 Gulf War – returned home suffering from a disorder characterized by symptoms that affect multiple bodily systems including fatigue, headaches, cognitive dysfunction, musculoskeletal pain, respiratory disorders, and skin rashes . Initially referred to as Gulf War Syndrome, Gulf War illness (GWI) is the term now used to describe this disorder. GWI affects approximately 200,000 U.S. veterans.
Symptoms of Gulf War Illness may include :
- Chronic fatigue
- Skin rashes
- Cognitive impairment
- GI discomfort
Deployed Veterans of the 1991 Gulf War have also been shown to be more than 40 times as likely to suffer symptoms consistent with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as non-deployed veterans .
How is Gulf War Illness Linked to Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
Gulf War veterans were exposed to many chemicals in the theater that are toxic to the nervous system. Some of these, such as organophosphates (OPs), can be toxic to mitochondria, producing symptoms such as fatigue, brain dysfunction, muscle, diseases, sleep disturbance and autonomic dysfunction, all symptoms that are seen in GWI .