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Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré facts

*Guillain-Barré facts Medically Edited by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) occurs when the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
  • Weakness or tingling in the legs or arms and upper body are characteristic symptoms of GBS.
  • Severe cases of Guillain-Barré cause paralysis and are life-threatening.
  • GBS is a very rare condition that afflicts about 1 out of every 100,000 people.
  • Guillain Barre syndrome can occur after a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Guillain-Barré syndrome also can appear after surgery or vaccines.
  • The autoimmune reaction in Guillain-Barré syndrome is directed against the myelin sheaths (surrounding tissue) of the peripheral nerves or the nerves themselves.
  • The signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barré can vary, so it can be hard to diagnose in the early stages.
  • A physical exam as well as an examination of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained from a spinal tap may help with diagnosis.
  • Treatment of Guillain-Barré syndrome may include plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy.
  • There is no cure for Guillain-Barre, but most people recover fully.
  • The recovery period after a bout of Guillain-Barré syndrome may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/16/2016


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