Gulf War syndrome is a chronic systemic disease that affects both military and civilian personnel who were in the Iraq theatre of the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It affects about 250,000 of the roughly 700,000 personnel in the theatre. There are also indications that the condition may affect persons involved in the Second Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan.
The disease exhibits a constellation of symptoms, none of which are universal to the disease. fatigue, headache and memory problems are the most common, but none affect a majority of persons identified with the condition. The most common medical conditions that are associated with the syndrome are skin conditions, arthritis or a chronic multi-symptom illness. They also appear to be at a higher risk to develop multiple sclerosis.
The cause of the condition is unknown, but nerve gas antidotes, organophosphate pesticides and sarin, a nerve gas, are considered to be the most likely candidates. Gulf War personnel were generally exposed to one or more of these, while personnel in other theatres were not. Some causes have been ruled out such as depleted uranium, anthrax vaccine, fuels, solvents, sand, infectious disease, and coatings that resisted chemical agents.