Recognize Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)
Edited by Maureen D., Eng, Lynn
What is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)? It is a rare medical condition that involves the central nervous system. Most of the people who are afflicted with this get better, but it could cause paralysis and death as well. This condition is uncommon and affects only two people out of 100,000.
There is no known cure for this condition but there are a lot of treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms and decrease the duration of GBS, like plasmapheresis and gammaglobulin infusions. Most of the people that recover from it still have lingering effects, such as fatigue, weakness and numbness. Recovery may take about half a year up to two years or even more.
What does it do to the body?
- 1Causes muscle weakness
- 2Loss of reflexes
- 3Numbness in the body
- 4Tingling sensations in limbs, face, and other parts of the body
What causes this condition?
Up to this point, experts still do not know what causes Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). But it is suspected that the syndrome involves our body's own defense system attacking the nerves, which is called an autoimmune disease. GBS attacks the Myelin Sheath (covering) of some particular nerves and causes nerves damages eventually.
Infections that trigger GBS
It usually begins in the nerves that have been infected with bacterial or viral infections in the past.
- Campylobacter jejuni - can cause food poisoning
- Mycoplasma - this infection can cause pneumonia
- Cytomegalovirus - causes fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, swollen glands, and fatigue
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)- causes mononucleosis
- Varicella-zoster virus - can cause shingles and chickenpox
- 1Not being able to move your eyes (the infected person will not be able to close his/her eyes by him/herself)
- 2Back and muscle pain
- 3Jerky and uncoordinated movements
- 4Numbness in hands and feet as well as around the mouth area
- 5Muscle weakness in the legs, arms and sides of the face
- 7Buzzing or crawling sensations on the skin
- 8Dizziness and blurred vision
- 9The person with GBS is fed through an NGT, or a nasogastric tube.Breathing, speaking, swallowing and chewing troubles.
- 10The most significant symptom of GBS is legs and arms getting weaker, as well as losing reflexes.
Fatal complications of GBS
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Respiratory Failure
The usual symptoms onset will be tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes. And when the time comes, arm and leg muscle weakness will develop. If this is the case, you will need to get medical assistance. When the weakness develops and reaches the muscles that control the breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, it could be fatal.
How is GBS diagnosed?
- 1Your physician will be asking when the symptoms, when they started and anything you have done differently.
- 2Also, the physician will ask if there were any recent infections.
- 3Lumbar puncture tests will be conducted for further diagnosis, as well as nerve conduction study
- 4Spinal tap
- 5Muscle strength tests
- 6Reflex test (knee jerk reaction)
- 7Blood tests
GBS is usually treated in a hospital or even an ICU depending on the conditions' severity. There are possible lifelong complications which include but are not limited to:
- 1Being unable to walk without any aid or wheelchair
- 2Sensory Ataxia or loss of sensation
- 3Balance loss
- 4Dysaesthesia - sense of touch issue, usually characterized by a burning or tingling sensation