Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Are Distinct Disorders: Study

Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Are Distinct Disorders: Study

The diagnosis and treatment of two conditions -- chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War illness -- could improve thanks to the discovery of distinct brain chemistry signatures in people with these disorders, researchers say.

The illnesses share symptoms such as pain, fatigue, thinking problems and exhaustion after exercise. They're often misdiagnosed as depression or other mental health problems, according to the study team from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The investigators found brain changes, specifically in levels of miRNAs -- which turn protein production on or off -- in people with one of the disorders who were given a spinal tap 24 hours after they exercised for 25 minutes.

"We clearly see three different patterns in the brain's production of these molecules in the [chronic fatigue syndrome] group and the two [Gulf War illness] phenotypes," said senior investigator Dr. James Baraniuk. He is a professor of medicine at Georgetown.

The miRNA levels in these disorders were different from the ones that are altered in depression, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer's disease, he said. Baraniuk described this as further confirmation that chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War illness are distinct diseases.

"This news will be well received by patients who suffer from these disorders who are misdiagnosed," he said in a university news release.

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects about a million Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previous research by Baraniuk found that more than one-quarter of the 697,000 U.S. veterans deployed to the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War had developed Gulf War illness, according to the news release.

Gulf War veterans had been exposed to combinations of nerve agents, pesticides and other toxic chemicals that may have triggered chronic pain, thinking, gastrointestinal and other problems, Baraniuk said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on chronic fatigue syndrome.


Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

Related Content

Understanding the Anxious Self: An Original Series on Anxiety Disorder
Understanding the Anxious Self: An Original Series on Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder affects 40 million adults in the U.S., making it the most commo...

Read more
New Series: Understanding the Anxious Self
New Series: Understanding the Anxious Self

Access all 7 episodes of our first video series instantly on Oct 15....

Read more
Dr. Ramani on Why Talk Therapy Is so Important
Dr. Ramani on Why Talk Therapy Is so Important

Have you tried talk therapy? A lot of people think talk therapy is a waste of ti...

Read more
Road Rage: The Psychology Behind It & How to Prevent It
Road Rage: The Psychology Behind It & How to Prevent It

Road rage: it’s a feeling we all know too well. But does it have more serious me...

Read more
How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Look in Men vs. Women?
How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Look in Men vs. Women?

She's booked out three months in advance, but we got a rare chance to sit down w...

Read more
Researchers Want Doctors To Be Able To Prescribe Magic Mushrooms For Depression
Researchers Want Doctors To Be Able To Prescribe Magic Mushrooms For Depression

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University think it’s time to change the drug class...

Read more