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Guillain Barre
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 Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is an inflammatory disorder in which your body's immune system attacks the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) and, rarely, parts of the brain itself. Severe weakness and numbness in your legs and arms characterize GBS. Loss of feeling and movement (paralysis) may occur in your legs, arms, upper body and face.

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.

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. GBS is life-threatening and fatal in up to 15 percent of cases, and risk of death is likely to be higher in older adults with other medical problems.

Most people recover from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some people continue to have some weakness. However, long-term impairment is possible, with approximately 20 percent of those with GBS having permanent disability, and about two-thirds having ongoing fatigue.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of GBS usually appear rapidly over the course of a single day. These may include:

  • Weakness, tingling or loss of sensation in your legs and feet

  • Weakness in your arms or upper body

  • Numbness, tingling, prickling sensation or moderate pain throughout your body

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Paralysis of your legs, arms, respiratory muscles and face

  • Difficulty with eye movement, facial movement, speaking, chewing or swallowing

  • Very slow heart rate or low blood pressure

  • Difficulty with bladder control or intestinal functions

GBS progresses quickly, with most people experiencing the worst weakness in the legs, arms, chest and other areas within three weeks of the start of the disease. In some cases, the signs and symptoms of GBS may progress very rapidly with complete paralysis of legs, arms and breathing muscles over the course of a few hours.

If GBS is mild, the signs and symptoms may not extend beyond a feeling of general weakness. GBS may improve on its own within a few weeks, and some people initially may think the signs and symptoms are due simply to a common virus.

The signs and symptoms of GBS may last days, weeks or months before muscle sensation begins to return. Regaining your pre-illness strength and functioning is slow, sometimes requiring months or years. However, most people with GBS return to normal within months.

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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