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March 2, 1994

Is There a Gulf War Syndrome?

Author Affiliations

Department of Veterans Affairs Allen Park, Mich

JAMA. 1994;271(9):661. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510330039024

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To the Editor.  —The confusing and elusive medical complaints reported by Persian Gulf War veterans have received significant attention recently by the media. Unfortunately, scientific studies attempting to define what has become known as the Gulf War syndrome have not been published. Although there seems to be a consistent set of subjective symptoms that are related to the syndrome, accurate prevalence estimates and risk factors are not yet available.We recently evaluated 166 Persian Gulf War veterans using targeted interviews, physical examinations, and laboratory studies. They were screened for alcohol and other drug use based on subjective report and serum γ-glutamyltransferase level. Tobacco use was not evaluated in all patients. The most frequent subjective complaints included joint pain (reported in 59% of the patients); rash (56%); shortness of breath and chest pain (38%); insomnia (37%); poor cognition (35%); fatigue (33%); and intermittent diarrhea (30%). Veterans also reported nightmares (24%), hair

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