Guillain-Barre Syndrome

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome is classified as an autoimmune disorder wherein the immune system of the body attacks its own organs, especially the peripheral nerves.

The disease is characterized by tingling sensations in the legs. You may also feel a certain amount of weakness in your legs along with the nervous tingling; the intensity of which varies from person to person. Often, these sensations also pass to the upper parts of the body, especially the arms and hands. The symptoms usually increase progressively in their intensity until the muscles have wasted or are so weak that they have lost all function. When the condition progresses to its last stages or grows uncontrolled, it may eventually cause complete or partial paralysis, and the limbs can no longer be used to their full extent.

The disorder has potentially life threatening consequences as it may interfere with the heart rate and may also affect blood pressure. Abnormal heart beats and formation of blood clots and very high or very low blood pressure can ultimately cause fatalities. While some patients may still feel some degree of weakness in their limbs, most of them are able to recover completely from this condition, even if the disease has progressed to a severe degree.

It is important to understand that the syndrome may affect anyone, and may affect both the genders equally. Fortunately, this is a very rare condition and has a very low incidence rate. Research has shown that only one in 100,000 people in the world are prone to developing Guillain-Barre syndrome. The disease is usually identified once the patient has first experienced respiratory or gastrointestinal infections; this may be after a few days or few weeks. The symptoms usually progress very fast and may become severe in a matter of a few hours. Within a few weeks of the first symptoms, 90 percent of all patients become extremely weak.

Alternative Names: There are many different terms to refer to Guillain-Barre syndrome. These include Landry-Guillain-Barre syndrome, acute inflammatory polyneuropathy, acute idiopathic polyneuritis, acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, and infectious polyneuritis.