Scans have shown loss of brain matter in two regions of the brain associated with pain regulation in Gulf War veterans, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center reported in the journal PLoS One.As background information, the authors informed that of the approximately 700,000 soldiers who served in Operation Desert Storm 1990-1991, nearly 30% developed Gulf War Illness Gulf War Syndrome. Gulf War Illness presents itself with symptoms such as cognitive deficits, autonomic dysfunction, severe fatigue, and chronic widespread pain that implicate the CNS central nervous system.The majority of patients with Gulf War Illness experience post-exertional malaise, meaning their symptoms worsen considerably after physical and/or mental effort.The scientists in this study had set out to determine what the causal relationship might be between exercise, the brain and alterations in symptoms. They recruited 38 volunteers – 28 Gulf War veterans and 10 controls ten matched people who were not veterans. The participants underwent two exercise stress tests as well as two fMRI functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, one before and one after the tests – the aim was to see whether there were any serial changes in pain, autonomic function and working memory.Autonomic function refers to how well the autonomic nervous system ANS is working. ANS is the part of the nervous system that acts as a control system and works largely below the level of consciousness. It affects digestion, heart rate, urination micturition, sexual arousal, perspiration, pupillary dilation, salivation, and respiratory rate.
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- Study Found Brain Changes in Veterans with Gulf War Illness (counselheal.com)
- Gulf War Illness and Alzheimer’s disease share similar neurochemical underpinnings (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Helping Veterans with Unseen Injuries (bu.edu)