U.S. Vets With Gulf War Syndrome Need Individualized Treatment: Report01/23/13
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A one-size-fits-all
approach to treating U.S. veterans with Gulf War Syndrome does not
work, and therapy needs to be tailored to meet each patient's
needs, according to a new Institute of Medicine report released
The document -- written as part of the institute's
congressionally mandated Gulf War and Health series -- evaluates
the various treatments for Gulf War Syndrome in veterans of the
1991 conflict and recommends best approaches to managing their
The official name for Gulf War Syndrome is chronic multisystem
illness (CMI), which is defined as having symptoms in at least two
of six categories -- fatigue, mood and cognition (thinking ability
and memory), musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, respiratory and
neurologic -- for at least six months.
The condition affects at least one-third of veterans of the 1991
Persian Gulf War. Similar symptoms have been reported in many
military personnel who served in the more recent wars in Iraq and
"Based on the voluminous evidence we reviewed, our committee cannot recommend using one universal therapy to manage the health of veterans with chronic multi-symptom illness, and we reject a one-size-fits-all treatment approach," committee chairman Bernard Rosof, chairman of the board of directors at Huntington Hospital, in Huntington, N.Y., said in an institute news release. "Instead, we endorse individualized health care management plans as the best approach for treating this very real, highly diverse condition."
The report listed many treatment approaches that might help
these veterans, including certain antidepressant drugs and
cognitive behavioral therapy. Other possibilities mentioned for
further research include biofeedback, aerobic exercise and
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should adopt a new
strategy of creating "CMI champions" to help its health care
providers better assist Gulf War Syndrome patients, who often have
complex symptoms and needs, the report said.
To improve the government's ability to identify veterans with
Gulf War Syndrome, patients' electronic medical records should
prompt health care providers to ask patients about possible
symptoms, the report recommended.
In addition, veterans should undergo a comprehensive health
examination immediately after they leave active duty, and the
results of these exams should be available to health care providers
both within and outside the VA health system to ensure continuity
The cause or causes of Gulf War Syndrome will never fully be
determined, the report said, but this does not mean that veterans'
reports of symptoms are not legitimate.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has more about
Gulf War veterans' illnesses.
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