Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Also called: Acute idiopathic polyneuritis, Acute inflammatory polyneuropathy, Infectious polyneuritis, Landry-Guillain-Barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder that causes your immune system to attack your peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS nerves connect your brain and spinal cord with the rest of your body. Damage to these nerves makes it hard for them to transmit signals. As a result, your muscles have trouble responding to your brain. No one knows what causes the syndrome. Sometimes it is triggered by an infection, surgery, or a vaccination.

The first symptom is usually weakness or a tingling feeling in your legs. The feeling can spread to your upper body. In severe cases, you become almost paralyzed. This is life-threatening. You might need a respirator to breathe. Symptoms usually worsen over a period of weeks and then stabilize.

Guillain-Barre can be hard to diagnose. Possible tests include nerve tests and a spinal tap. Most people recover. Recovery can take a few weeks to a few years. Treatment can help symptoms, and may include medicines or a procedure called plasma exchange.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following features are indicative of Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • prickling sensations in the fingers, toes, ankles or wrists
  • weakness in the legs
  • unsteady walking
  • difficulty with eye or facial movements
  • severe pain
  • difficulty with bladder control
  • rapid heart rate
  • low or high blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing
It is possible that Guillain-Barre Syndrome shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following are the most common causes of Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • respiratory tract infection
  • digestive tract infection
  • epstein-Barr virus infection
  • zika virus

Risk Factors for Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • older people
  • undercooked poultry
  • AIDS
  • mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma

Prevention of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • get influenza vaccination

Occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Guillain-Barre Syndrome can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Guillain-Barre Syndrome can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • Spinal tap: To test the fluid with changes
  • Electromyography: To measure the nerve activity in the muscles
  • Nerve conduction studies: To measure the speed of nerve signals

Doctor for Diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Guillain-Barre Syndrome if untreated

Yes, Guillain-Barre Syndrome causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Guillain-Barre Syndrome is left untreated:
  • breathing difficulties
  • residual numbness
  • heart problems
  • blood pressure problems
  • bowel function problems
  • bladder function problems
  • blood clots
  • pressure sores

Procedures for Treatment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following procedures are used to treat Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis): Removed and separated from the blood cells
  • Immunoglobulin therapy: Block the damaging antibodies that may contribute in causing disease

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
  • Acupuncture: Helps in recovering motor strength and ambulation
  • Electro acupuncture: Helps in recovering motor strength and ambulation
  • Pharmacopuncture: Helps in recovering motor strength and ambulation

Patient Support for Treatment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The following actions may help Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients:
  • Maintain a strong support system of friends and family: Helps in coping with the disease
  • Contact a support group: Discuss your feelings and concerns with the individuals suffering from the same condition

Time for Treatment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Guillain-Barre Syndrome to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Autoimmune Diseases
Peripheral Neuropathy

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