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Guillain Barré Syndrome - Symptoms and Treatment

Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acute, autoimmune, polyradiculo neuropathy affecting the peripheral nervous system , usually triggered by an acute infectious process. It is included in the wider group of peripheral neuropathies. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. GBS affects an estimated one to three in every 100,000 persons annually in the United States. It can strike any race at any age, but its incidence increases with age. GBS may occur within days or weeks after a viral infection such as influenza (flu) or diarrhea. It may be triggered by pregnancy or a medical procedure, such as a vaccination or minor surgery, or have no evident reason for developing. Because the cause of GBS is unknown, there's no way to prevent the disease from occurring. After the first clinical manifestations of the disease, the symptoms can progress over the course of hours, days, or weeks. Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all patients are at their weakest.

Guillain-Barré (ghee-yan bah-ray) syndrome is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. As a result of the attack, the nerve insulation (myelin) and sometimes even the inner covered part of the nerve (axon) is damaged and signals are delayed or otherwise changed - this causes a spreading paralysis. The syndrome appears to be triggered by acute viral or bacterial illnesses, such as respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, occurring one to three weeks earlier. The resultant antibodies attack the myelin sheaths that coat the nerve cells, causing paralysis, muscular weakness and strange sensations as the sensory nerves of the skin are affected. In its most severe form, GBS is a medical emergency and may require hospitalization. Severe GBS may result in total paralysis, potentially dangerous fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure, and inability to breathe without respiratory assistance. The muscles you use for eye movement, speaking, chewing and swallowing also may become weak or paralyzed. People with severe GBS often need long-term rehabilitation to regain normal independence, and as many as 15 percent experience lasting physical impairment. In some cases, GBS can be fatal. Most people recover from even the most severe cases of GBS. Available treatments, if started soon after signs and symptoms appear, may lessen the severity of GBS and reduce recovery time.

Causes of Guillain Barre Syndrome

Common causes and risk factor's of Guillain Barre Syndrome include the following :

  • Viral hepatitis.
  • Gastrointestinal viral infection.
  • Infectious mononucleosis.
  • Flu, common cold.
  • Campylobacteriosis (usually from eating undercooked poultry).
  • Porphyria (rare disease of red blood cells).

Symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome

Some common Symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome :

  • Numbness.
  • problems walking.
  • Muscle aches, pains or cramps.
  • Facial weakness.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Dizziness.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Irritability.
  • Symptoms may take a few days or weeks to progress.
  • Leg weakness or pain progressing to the arms.

Treatment of Guillain Barre Syndrome

  • Trials have proven the effectiveness of this form of treatment. IVIG is given by infusion into a vein, usually every day for five days. Each infusion takes about two hours.
  • Blood is taken from the patient. The immune cells are removed, and the remaining red blood cells are returned to the body



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