Explained: What Is Guillain Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barré syndrome, also known as GBS, is a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.

When these nerves are damaged, it can cause muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness. In severe cases, GBS can also cause paralysis. This is a rare disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. they mention that “only between 3,000 and 6,000 people” suffer from GBS every year in the United States.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes the disease as “Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, the network of nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord.”


Source: Mayo Clinic

What is the main cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

The exact cause of this disease is still unknown, but it is considered to be triggered by an infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies these infections as follows:

  • Diarrhea or a respiratory illness: About 2 in 3 people with GBS had diarrhea or a respiratory illness several weeks before developing GBS symptoms.
  • Viral infections: Some people with GBS have had the flu or infections with cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr virus, Zika virus, or other viruses.
  • Vaccination: Very rarely, people have developed GBS in the days or weeks after receiving certain vaccines. However, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. For example, studies show that people are more likely to get GBS after getting the flu than after getting a flu vaccine.
  • Campylobacter jejuni infectionwhich causes diarrhea, is one of the most common causes of GBS.”

What are the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

The symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome usually last for weeks and can cause paralysis if the problem becomes severe. Here is a list of symptoms according to the WHO:

  • The first symptom that occurs is a feeling of weakness or tingling that begins in the legs and spreads to the arms and face.
  • If the case becomes severe, people may have difficulty speaking and swallowing. These cases are considered life-threatening and should be treated immediately.
  • Most people recover completely from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some continue to experience weakness.
  • Even in the best settings, 3% to 5% of GBS patients die from complications, such as paralysis of the muscles that control breathing, blood infection, lung clots, or cardiac arrest.

What is the treatment of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

There is no specific treatment for this problem, but patients should be monitored closely and admitted to a hospital for further care.

Here are the WHO treatment recommendations:

  • Patients suffering from the problem should be hospitalized for close monitoring and immediate response if the condition worsens.
  • Supportive care for patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome should include monitoring heartbeat and blood pressure.
  • Patients who have breathing problems should be put on a ventilator.
  • Patients should be monitored for complications, such as abnormal heart rate, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure.
  • Immunotherapy is the most common treatment available for GBS, as it is an autoimmune disease. Immunotherapy helps suppress the immune system and prevents it from further damaging the nerves. Patients should be treated with plasma exchange within 7 to 14 days of symptom onset.

In conclusion, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare but serious neurological disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. The exact cause of GBS is unknown, but it is important to seek medical attention as soon as any symptoms appear. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the disease from progressing to more serious stages.

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Source: ptivs2.edu.vn

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