Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder of peripheral nervous system
Guillian Barre Syndrome is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system. It can strike anybody at any age with both sexes equally prone to the disorder. At the initial stage the patient experiences weakness or tingling sensations in the legs.
Later, symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations are felt in arms and upper body. At its severest stage, the patient’s body is totally paralyzed, a medical emergency that needs close monitoring of breathing and heart condition.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disease where the cells of immunity system destroy the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons of peripheral nerves. Sometimes even the axons are also not spared. When the myelin sheaths are injured or degraded the nerves will not be in a position to transmit signals efficiently. The fall-out is evident as muscles losing their ability to respond to respond to brain’s commands. This condition also leads to a condition where the brain loses its ability to feel textures, pain, heat and crawling.
The symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome include, pain, tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, co-ordination problems and unsteadiness. In the advanced stage of Guillain-Barre syndrome there may be blurred vision, difficulty in speaking and swallowing, fluctuations in heart rate, temporary paralysis of legs, arms, face and respiratory muscles.
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Risks & Complications
Guillain-Barre syndrome can affect all age groups. However, males and older people are greatly prone to this disorder. This syndrome may be triggered by different viral and bacterial infections. The complication of Guillain-Barre syndrome are evident as breathing difficulties, residual numbness, heart and blood pressure problems, pain, bowel and bladder functions, blood clots, pressure sores, and relapse. In rare cases, death may occur due to respiratory distress (breathing problems) and heart attack.
Tests & Diagnosis
The symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome in the early stages are similar to those of other neurological disorders. The doctor enquires about the medical history of the patient, and notes the symptoms associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome. To confirm the disease, the doctor may recommend for spinal tap test, electromyography and nerve conduction studies.
The severity of Guillain-Barre syndrome can be treated with plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) and immunoglobulin therapy. The patient also requires physical therapy, that includes movement of arms and legs to keep the muscles flexible and strong.