News about 'Gulf War Syndrome' -- some parallels with Lyme
In USAToday, the following is posted online currently, titled 'Researchers tie Gulf War illness to brain damage'.
The point that may parallel Lyme is that these vets have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, when it turns out there seem to be identifiable, objective causes for their symptoms.
These specific Gulf War Syndrome symptoms have nothing to do with Lyme, but this brings home the point that docs are sometimes inclined to imply the patient is faking or is a head case when there is no obvious or accepted cause. Interesting that they are using brain blood flow analysis as a diagnostic tool, just as Lyme docs use SPECT scans.
The money quote is in the last paragraph and is definitely worth reading. It may sound familiar to some of us. fwiw.
"Researchers say they have found physical proof that Gulf War illness is caused by damage to the brain — and that proof may ultimately help civilians who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
"Using fMRI machines, the Georgetown University researchers were able to see anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans. The research will be published Wednesday in PLOS ONE journal.
"The findings are 'huge,' because an fMRI allows doctors to diagnose a person with Gulf War illness quickly, said James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. The research, he said, also shows that Gulf War illness is not psychological.
"An fMRI, or 'functional' MRI, is a scan that measures activity by detecting how blood flows through the brain.
"Many veterans have had difficulties getting benefits and treatment for a service-connected condition because doctors assumed they were either faking it or suffering from post-traumatic stress. 'That's a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian,' Baraniuk said. 'If it doesn't fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts.' "
It's not a long article, but a thoughtfully written one, and thus hard to summarize. Here's the money quote on causation, tho do read the whole thing for the subtleties:
"The researchers suspect the damage came from environmental factors. Other researchers have found that as many as 100,000 troops were exposed to Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed an Iraqi munitions plant, and other researchers have found a connection between the symptoms and the ACHL-inhibitors found in nerve agents, the anti-nerve-agent pills servicemembers took, and the industrial-strength bug spray troops used on their clothing and skin."
'That's a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian,' Baraniuk said. 'If it doesn't fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts.' "
YES YES YES!! This is so true! When did doctors start believing that they know all there is to know about medicine?? When did it become the norm to conclude psychiatric problems in the absence of another answer?
I am not at all surprised that they're finding a problem in the brains of Gulf War Syndrome sufferers. I've believed for a long time that they have a very real condition that doctors just didn't understand. All the "studies" and investigations they did that concluded there was no such illness were framed within existing knowledge. Why can't doctors admit that new diseases and conditions do appear in today's modern world. Instead of dismissing them, why don't you develop some intellectual curiosity and try to figure it out??
On the topic of the article, I think they're also finding a relationship between mysterious illness in veterans and proximity to burn pits. Bases in the desert often use burn pits to dispose of trash and equipment. There could be plenty of toxins in the smoke.
I have been wondering lately about Bartonella, especially with the rampant suicides in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Bartonella is carried by many different insects and is believed to exist all over the world. I highly doubt that many scientific studies have been made of whatever strains of Bart they may have in that part of the world. Bartonella causes anxiety, depression, and phsychiatric symptoms, and could be a contributing factor in PTSD.
Also, toxoplasmosis has been linked to suicides in Britain. Either one of these poorly understood diseases could be present in people before they go to war, or could be acquired there and brought home.
But who can I make this suggestion to? I'm not a doctor or a veteran. I doubt I'd be listened to.
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