Guillain-Barré Syndrome- Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

What if your body’s immune system starts attacking your nerve cells? It seems quite disturbing and dangerous, right? Today, we are going to discuss the same medical system in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system. This rare but serious neurological disorder is known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome. During this syndrome, your body’s immune system attacks healthy nerve cells in your peripheral nervous system, which is the network of nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.

Overview of Guillain-Barré Syndrome

During this condition, a person experiences numbness, weakness and tingling. These sensations will quickly spread into your body and lead to paralysis. This condition is usually induced by an infectious disease like gastroenteritis (stomach or intestinal irritation) or a lung infection. Even those with severe cases recover easily from Guillain-Barré Syndrome in most situations. Yes, within 6-12 months 85% of GBS citizens are fully recovered. The risk of it coming back is very low when you get proper treatment.

Symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome hits fast. In your arms and legs, you usually feel the symptoms. You can feel weaknesses in your muscles or “pins and needles” knocking in your hands and feet and then moving in the middle of your body. You might also feel incredibly drained. Guillain-Barré Syndrome will slow down your reflexes. There is a slight weakness for some people. Others almost completely paralyze themselves and fight to breathe or swallow.

Such experiences appear to disappear before the central, long-term symptoms arise.  The principal symptom that drives most people to look for medical attention is weakness on both sides of the body. The vulnerability may first tend to be difficult to climb or move. Symptoms sometimes involve your body, your muscles and even your nose, which can contribute to more widespread damage to your nerves.

Including this, you may also experience –

  •          Poor or blurry vision
  •          Difficulty in swallowing, speaking, breathing and chewing
  •          Severe pain, particularly at night
  •          Unsteadiness
  •          Coordination problems
  •          Abnormal heartbeat
  •          Abnormal blood circulation and pressure
  •          Loss of bladder control
  •          Problems in digestion
  •          Severe lower back pain
  •          Difficulty walking steadily

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Occur in Several Forms like

  •          Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP)
  •          Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS)
  •          Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN)
  •          Acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN)

What are the causes of Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is thought to be caused when a problem with your immune system occurs and the body lost its ability to naturally defence again illnesses and infections. Normally, our immune system saves our body from foreign bacteria and infections, but in Guillain-Barré Syndrome some happens in your body and your own immune system start attacking your healthy nerve cells in your peripheral nervous system. This leads to the nerve damage, which stops the signals that the brain gives to the body to perform activities. This is the reason why a person with Guillain-Barré Syndrome experience numbness, weakness, coordination problems and pain. There are some triggers that are associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, like –

  •          Zika virus
  •          Cold
  •          Stomach virus
  •          Flu
  •          Food poisoning
  •          glandular fever
  •          HIV
  •          Dengue
  •          Cytomegalovirus
  •          Surgery
  •          Injury
  •          medical procedures

What are the best treatments for Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

To reduce the symptoms and boost speedy recovery, there are a number of treatments to treat Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The treatments are –

Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG)

It is the most common treatment for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. During this condition, your immune system produces harmful antibodies that attack your nerves. During this treatment, donated blood, which contains healthy antioxidants, is given to stop harmful antibodies damaging your nerves. IVIG is given directly via vein once a day for around five days.

Plasma Exchange

Also known as Plasmapheresis, plasma exchange is also another treatment that is used on the place of IVIG. The treatment involves removing blood from a vein and filtering our antibodies that are attacking your nerve cells. One would need this treatment every other day for a week or two.

Other treatments

  •          ventilator
  •          a feeding tube
  •          painkillers
  •          moving on a regular basis to avoid bed sores and joint pain
  •          a catheter is attached to urethra of people who face difficulty peeing
  •          laxatives to treat constipation
  •          medications to treat other symptoms

How is Guillain-Barré Syndrome diagnosed?

It is hard to diagnose Guillain-Barré Syndrome at first. This can be because the symptoms are similar to other neurological conditions, such as botulism, meningitis or heavy metal toxicity, that affect the nervous system. Substances such as mercury and arsenic may cause heavy metal poisoning. A doctor will inquire about your individual conditions and medical history. Be sure to tell your doctor about unusual symptoms and whether you have had diseases or infections in the past or in the past. Following tests are required to treat Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

  •          Spinal tap
  •          Electromyography
  •          Nerve conduction tests

Key diagnostic findings include –

  •          Recent viral infection or diarrhoea
  •          lingering weakness, numbness
  •          Absent or diminished deep tendon reflexes
  •          Abnormal nerve conduction

Whom to discuss the condition?

Whenever you experience the symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, just consult your doctor. Get all the tests done for the right diagnosis of the condition because sometimes the symptoms are related to other conditions. Once the Guillain-Barré Syndrome is diagnosed with the tests, start getting the proper treatment from the right physician. Supporting treatment is necessary to cope with multiple paralysis problems as the body heals and damaged nerves start to heal. Respiratory failure may occur during Guillain-Barré Syndrome so near surveillance should be initially carried out of a person’s breathing. A mechanical fan may sometimes be used to assist ventilation or to regulate it. Nerve damage caused by GBS may occasionally lead to difficulty handling mouth and throat secretions. Besides shaking and/or drooling, secretions may enter the airway and cause pneumonia. Take proper care of the person who is diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome