Gulf War syndrome has been connected to many types of health issues such as chronic pain, headaches, and fatigue. It’s also
As many as
It’s estimated that about 12% of Gulf War veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in any given year, and
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes IBS as a symptom of Gulf War syndrome. They presume that having IBS or other chronic, unexplained symptoms for at least 6 months is related to Gulf War service, regardless of cause.
Read on to learn more about the connection between IBS and Gulf War syndrome.
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms tend to come and go for days to months at a time and last for a lifetime. There’s no cure, but medications, lifestyle changes, and dietary changes can help control symptoms.
IBS is often subclassified into three categories based on your symptoms:
- IBS with constipation
- IBS with diarrhea
- IBS with mixed bowel habits
Gastrointestinal illness is common among veterans of many wars but seems to be
Estimates of how common gastrointestinal problems are in Gulf War veterans vary from
- noncardiac chest pain
- functional gastrointestinal disorders (disorders of brain-gut interaction including IBS)
The exact cause of these gastrointestinal issues in veterans is hard to isolate but is likely caused by some combination of:
- unsanitary conditions
- psychological issues
- chemical exposures
It’s estimated that over
IBS often occurs alongside other conditions including
In a 2019
The researchers found that the odds of developing IBS were 2.8 times higher in people with PTSD compared to those without PTSD (95% confidence intervals 2.06 to 3.54).
It’s not clear why people who experience traumatic events or have PTSD seem to develop IBS at higher rates, but it’s likely related to chronic stress.
IBS symptoms may affect your ability to work and may lead to discharge if your symptoms become unmanageable.
Veterans Affairs assigns a disability rating based on the severity of your condition to determine how much disability compensation and other benefits you’re eligible for.
They assign you a disability rating as a percentage from 10% to 100% based on the severity of your disability and inability to function.
They base your rating on evidence such as:
- evidence you provide such as medical test results or doctor’s notes
- results of your Veterans Affairs claim exam
- other information they may obtain from sources like federal agencies
Veterans Affairs assumes that certain chronic, unexplained conditions that last for at least six months are related to Gulf War service regardless of the cause. These presumptive illnesses include:
The exact cause of IBS can be difficult to isolate. It’s thought that stress, bacterial infections in your gut, food intolerances, and certain genes can all play a role. Your doctor will likely recommend a combination of treatments.
Dietary and lifestyle changes
Your doctor may recommend dietary changes such as:
Lifestyle changes such as:
- increasing physical activity
- reducing stress where possible
- improving your sleep quality
Mental health therapies
Your doctor may recommend mental health therapies to target psychological factors that may be contributing to your IBS. They may include:
After acute gastroenteritis, as many as
Many different medications are used to relieve IBS symptoms.
For diarrhea, your
For constipation, they may recommend:
- fiber supplements
Other medications may include:
- coated peppermint oil capsules
IBS and other gastrointestinal problems are common among veterans and particularly among veterans who served in the Gulf War.
Many factors can potentially contribute to the development of IBS including unsanitary conditions, bacterial infections, and psychological factors.
IBS may qualify you for disability benefits if you served in the Gulf War. The amount of disability you receive depends on your level of disability.