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Guillain-Barré Syndrome

What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Guillain-Barré (Ghee-yan Bah-ray) syndrome is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. In this disorder, the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is characterized by the rapid onset of weakness and often, paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles and face. Guillain-Barré Syndrome can develop over the course of hours or days, or it may take up to 3 to 4 weeks. Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear. Abnormal sensations also occur.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is named after Georges Charles Guillain and Jean-Alexandre Barré. Guillain and Barré were two Frenchmen who were trained as neurologists at the famous Saltpêtrière hospital in Paris about a hundred years ago.

Guillain-Barré syndrome, is also called Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy and Landry's Ascending Paralysis.

What are the Symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

There are many symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs is usually the first symptom. In most instances the weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until the muscles cannot be used at all, and the patient is almost totally paralyzed.

What Causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is not known. About 50% of cases occur shortly after a viral or bacterial infection such as a sore throat or diarrhea. A lot of cases developed in people who received the 1976 swine flu vaccine.

How is Guillain-Barré Syndrome Diagnosed?

The most common used diagnostic procedure for Guillain-Barré syndrome is a lumbar puncture. The lumbar puncture is used to find elevated fluid protein. An electrical test of nerve and muscle function may also be performed.

How is Guillain-Barré Syndrome Treated?

Currently, there is no cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, some of the symptoms can be treated. There are therapies available that can lessen the severity of the symptoms and accelerate the recovery in most patients.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a very serious disease that requires immediate hospitalization. It requires immediate hospitalization because it can worsen rapidly. Most newly diagnosed patients are hospitalized and usually placed in an intensive care unit to monitor breathing and other body functions.

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