Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

What is Guillain-Barré syndrome? — Guillain-Barré syndrome, or "GBS," is a condition that causes mild or severe muscle weakness. There are different types of GBS. The most common type is called "acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy," or "AIDP." Both children and adults can get GBS.
In GBS, a person's infection-fighting system attacks their own nervous system. This damages the nervous system, which can cause symptoms.
In people who get GBS, it usually comes on after a bacterial or viral infection. Common examples include Campylobacter (an illness that causes stomach pain and diarrhea), influenza (the "flu"), and other illnesses like the flu.
What are the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome? — GBS causes muscle weakness on both sides of the body. The weakness usually starts in the legs, and then spreads to the arms and face. Some people have mild weakness, for example, trouble walking. Other people are unable to move the muscles in their legs, arms, or face. This is called "paralysis." In some people, the muscles used for breathing get very weak. This can make it hard to breathe.
Other symptoms of GBS can include:
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Pain, especially in the back, legs, or arms
Less common symptoms of GBS can include:
Problems with eye movement
Loss of coordination in the arms and legs
Is there a test for Guillain-Barré syndrome? — Yes. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and do an exam. They will also do tests to be sure you have GBS. Tests can include:
A lumbar puncture, sometimes called a "spinal tap" – During this procedure, a doctor puts a thin needle in the lower back and removes a small amount of spinal fluid. Spinal fluid is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. They will do lab tests on the spinal fluid.
Nerve conduction studies – This test can show whether the nerves are carrying electrical signals the correct way.
Electromyography, or "EMG" – This test shows whether the muscles are responding to the electrical signals from the nerves in the correct way.
Blood tests
How is Guillain-Barré syndrome treated? — Treatment for GBS involves different parts:
Treatments for problems caused by the GBS – People with GBS are usually treated in the hospital. That's because symptoms of GBS can get worse very quickly. In the hospital, the doctor can monitor a person's breathing, heartbeat, and health. Then they can treat any problems that come up, such as:
•Breathing problems – People who are having a very hard time breathing usually need a breathing tube. A breathing tube is a tube that goes down the throat and into the lungs. The other end is attached to a machine that helps with breathing.
•Pain – Doctors can use different medicines to treat pain.
Treatment for the GBS itself – Most people with GBS get better with time. But there are 2 different treatments that can help improve symptoms and shorten how long GBS lasts.
People with GBS usually have one or the other of these treatments, depending on their individual situation and other factors. These treatments are:
•IVIG – This is a medicine that helps strengthen the body's infection-fighting system.
•Plasma exchange (also called "plasmapheresis") – For this treatment, a machine pumps blood from the body and removes substances from the blood that are attacking the nervous system. Then the machine returns the blood to the body.
Children with GBS usually have the same treatments as adults. But doctors usually use IVIG or plasma exchange only if children have severe symptoms.
People whose muscles get very weak might need "rehab." During rehab, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals show people ways to strengthen their muscles and move their bodies.
How long does Guillain-Barré syndrome last? — GBS usually lasts a few weeks. After that, the symptoms slowly get better over weeks to months.
Most people will recover completely from their GBS and have no long-term muscle weakness. But some people have muscle weakness that lasts years.
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This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 82816 Version 6.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
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