Guillain Barre syndrome
Exact cause is unknown
Usually appears after an infectious illness (of the respiratory or digestive system)
Symptoms and signs
Tingling sensation in fingers, toes, wrists or ankles
Weakness in legs that spreads to the upper body
Difficulty in walking, climbing
Difficulties chewing, swallowing
Problems with speaking, eyes and facial movement
Muscle pain, cramps
Difficulties related to bladder control and bowel function
High or low blood pressure
Medical history is verified, followed by a physical examination
Diagnosis can be troublesome as symptoms are characteristic to other neurological diseases as well
Spinal tap (lumbar puncture) – spinal fluid is extracted and analyzed
Nerve conduction studies – the speed with which nerves send signals is measured
Electromyography – nerve activity in the muscles is measured
There is no instant and precise cure but there are treatments that can speed-up recovery and help with symptom management
Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) – blood cells are separated from plasma and reintroduced in the body; through this process, the plasma that contains the antibodies that attack the myelin sheath and axons is removed and a new one is produced
Immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) – healthy antibodies are administered intravenously
Medication is given for pain relief and blood clot prevention
Physical therapy is recommended to maintain or regain muscle strength, tone and mobility
Recovery period varies from several months to a few years
The flu vaccine causes Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is incurable.
A person with Guillain-Barre syndrome will never make a complete recovery.
After recovery, chances of a relapse are very high.
US incidence: 1.2-3/100,000 people
AMAN and AMSAN are more common in China, Japan and Mexico
AIDP is more common in Europe, North America (around 90% of the cases of GBS)
Age groups in which GBS tends to occur: 15-35 and 50-75
Up to 5% of the people with Guillain-Barre syndrome suffer a relapse
Military personnel seem to have a slightly increased risk of developing GBS.
Due to the Zika virus epidemic, Columbia expects around 1,500 Guillain-Barre syndrome cases per 650,000 people infected. (2016)
Famous people with Guillain-Barre syndrome: Franklin Roosevelt, actor Andy Griffith, American football player William Perry, author Joseph Heller