WHAT IS GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME?
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare condition in which your own immune system attacks the protective covering around your nerves, called myelin. This leads to nerve dysfunction.
GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME SIGNS AND SYMPTOM
The initial signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome include tingling and weakness in the feet which then spreads to the legs, chest and arms. In some severe circumstances, it might result in total paralysis and even jeopardize the respiratory system.
Guillain-Barré syndrome signs and symptoms include:
- Weakness and numbness in the legs
- Difficulty or inability to speak, chew or smile
- Difficulty breathing
- Unsteady gait
COMMON CAUSES OF GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME
Guillain-Barré syndrome develops when a stimulation causes an abnormal immune response that damages the nerves’ protective coating, the myelin sheath. Myelin deficiency is the cause of poor neural transmission, which eventually causes the aforementioned symptoms. Although the specific cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown, some well-known triggers include respiratory or digestive infections with certain germs including:
- Campylobacter bacteria
- Influenza virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Zika virus
- Hepatitis A, B, C and E
Additionally, Guillain-Barré syndrome is much more common among younger men than the general population.
GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME DIAGNOSIS
If your doctor suspects that you might have this condition, a number of lab tests might help confirm it, including:
LUMBAR PUNCTURE: During this procedure, a small amount of spinal fluid is drawn through a needle placed in your spinal canal in your lower back. Doctors will then examine the spinal fluid for abnormalities caused by the condition.
NERVE CONDUCTION STUDY: This measures your electrical nerve impulses and nerve function through skin electrodes. This supplies doctors with additional diagnostic information to help determine your condition and its severity. It can also be used later on in your treatment to monitor how well your nerves are recovering from the damage caused by Guillain-Barré syndrome.
ELECTROMYOGRAPHY (EMG): In which your doctor inserts a transdermal needle electrode into selected muscles to evaluate their electrical activity and gauge the severity of your condition.
GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME TREATMENT
There are some internationally-recognized treatments that can help speed your recovery and reduce the impact and severity of the disease, such as:
IMMUNOGLOBULIN THERAPY: This therapy introduces healthy antibodies into your bloodstream to help neutralize the harmful antibodies responsible for nerve damage.
PLASMAPHERESIS: During this procedure, your plasma is replaced to help remove harmful disease-causing antibodies from your blood. This therapy is cumbersome, expensive and has also not been proven to be more effective than immunoglobulin therapy. It usually complements one of the above treatments.