Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) Systems Affected: Guillain-Barré Syndrome is when the body’s immune system begins attacking its own peripheral nervous system. This causes the myelin or “protective coating” around the nerves to be broken down, resulting in the brain no longer being able to send messages to the rest of the body. Which, in severe cases can cause paralysis from the shoulders down. Demographic: GBS is able to affect all age groups, races, and genders. In all recorded GBS cases, more have been male and at an average age of 41 years. It is also extremely rare for a child to develop this condition. It is unknown why GBS occurs in adults rather than children. Description: GBS is a rare disorder affecting only 1 in 100 000 people. The symptoms have been recorded to typically occur a week after a patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. GBS is not a pleasant disease, it is hard to diagnose and progresses extremely fast. Symptoms:The first symptom to occur is typically tingling or prickling sensations in the legs, with this follows muscle weakness and difficulty walking. Eventually these symptoms can spread to the arms and upper body. There will then become issues moving the eyes, face, talking, chewing, or swallowing. Throughout the progression of the disease patients will tend to experience severe lower back pain. Loss of bladder control is also a result of the onset paralysis, as well as difficulty breathing. All Guillain-Barré patients will eventually have an increased heart rate. In time, the paralysis of specific limbs will occur, in some cases the patients can become almost completely paralyzed. In the most extreme casesthis disease can become life threatening because of the interference with breathing and heart rate.
Diagnosis of GBS: There are other disorders with symptoms similar to Guillain-Barré’s. However, with GBS the symptoms seem to occur in a specific order different from others. Specifically, they occur on both sides of the body and progress much faster than with other disorders. Also, tests for the reflexes of the knees tend to help determine if it is likely to be GBS. In GBS, the nerve signals are slower, so nerve conduction tests will help in diagnosis. The cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal cord and brain would also contain more protein than usual in GBS but will have a normal cell count. This means a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) will need to be performed to confirm diagnosis. Treatment Options: Currently there is no known cure for GBS. However, different forms of treatment can relieve patients and accelerate the recovery. Currently there are two treatment options, both have shown to be equally successful in helping aid recovery (listed below). Both treatment options also reduce the need for ventilation (help breathing) by 50%, eventually after a year there is usually no longer a need for any ventilation machines. There are no homeopathic remedies or dietary modifications that have been proven as successful treatment options so far.