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GBS disease (Guillain-Barre Syndrome): Symptoms, causes, Diagnosis, etc.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome


Guillain Barre Syndrome or GBS disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system, the nerves responsible for controlling the movement of the body. See the following explanation on the symptoms, causes, and further treatment below.

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)?

As the previous explanation, GBS is a rare disorder in which the body's immune system invades the nervous system. This condition creates weakness and tingling in certain parts of the body. This sensation can rapidly spread and paralyze the entire body. Most people with this condition should be hospitalized to receive treatment.


Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Symptoms of GBS often begin with tingling and weakness that start in the legs and spread to the upper body. In some cases, there are also symptoms that start from the arm or face. If it does not get proper handling, this syndrome causes muscular weakness and can develop into paralysis.

Signs and symptoms of GBS may include:

  • A needle-stabbed sensation on the toes, ankles, or wrist
  • Running unstable, unable to walk, or unable to climb stairs
  • Difficulty in moving faces, including talking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Double vision or inability to move your eyes
  • Severe pain that may feel like a sore or cramps (this condition can deteriorate at night)
  • Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Breathing difficulty

People with GBS usually experience the most significant drawbacks within two weeks of having symptoms started.


When is the right time to go to the doctor?

Immediately seek medical help if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Tingling that starts in the foot or toes then moves up the body
  • Tingling or weakness spreads rapidly
  • Difficulty breathing or short breathing when lying down
  • Choking saliva

GBS disease is a serious condition that requires hospitalization immediately as it can deteriorate rapidly. The sooner the treatment begins, the more likely it is to get a good result.

Causes of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

The exact cause of GBS has not been known for sure. These disorders usually appear a few days or weeks after infections of the respiratory tract or digestion. This indicates that an improper immune response to the previous illness can trigger interference. In rare cases, surgery or vaccination can trigger this syndrome.

Risk Factors

GBS can affect all age groups, but risks can increase as you age. This syndrome is also more common in men than women. Here are some other factors that increase the occurrence of this syndrome, among others:

Campylobacter infection, a type of bacteria often found in poorly cooked poultry

  • Influenza Virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Zika Virus
  • Hepatitis A, B, C and E
  • Hiv
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) Diagnosis

In the earliest stages of GBS is difficult to diagnose. This is because the signs and symptoms are similar to other neurological disorders and may vary from person to person. Your doctor will likely start with a medical history and thorough physical examination.

Some tests that the doctor may suggest are:

  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). A small amount of fluid is removed from the spinal canal in the lower back.
  • Electromyography. A thin needle electrode is inserted into the muscles to be studied by the doctor. Electrodes measure nerve activity in muscles.
  • Neural conduction studies. Electrodes are attached to the skin above the nerves. Small shocks are passed through the nerves to measure nerve signal speed.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) treatment

The purpose of treatment of GBS is to reduce the severity of the attack of the immune system and support the function of body organs such as lung function. Here are some of the treatments that can be done to overcome GBS disease, among them:

Plasmaferesis (Plasma Exchange)

The immune system produces a protein called antibodies that usually attack harmful foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. GBS occur when the immune system mistakenly creates antibodies that attack healthy nerves in the nervous system. Plasmaferesis is intended to remove antibodies that invade the nerves from your blood.

During this procedure, blood is removed from the body with a special machine. This machine removes antibodies from the blood and then restores blood to the body.

Intravenous immunoglobulin

Immunoglobulin containing healthy antibodies from the blood donor is administered through the vein (intravenously). High-dose immunoglobulin can block damaging antibodies that can contribute to GBS disease.

Basically, plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin are equally effective. Treatment selection depends on your condition and the doctor to decide on the best handling.

Other GBS Treatments

You may be given a cure for pain relief and prevent blood clotting when the body cannot move. In addition, you may receive physical and occupational therapy. Once you begin to recover, the therapist will work with you to strengthen the muscles in order to do daily activities.

Well, that's a variety of GBS treatment that can be done. Usually the recovery lasts 6 to 12 months, although for some people it can take three years.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) complications

Because GBS affects the nervous system to control body movement and function, the following are some of the complications that can occur when a person has this condition:

Difficulty breathing. Weakness or paralysis can spread to the muscles that control breathing. In some cases, a person needs help from the machine to breathe in the first week when treated.

Heart problems and blood pressure. Fluctuations in blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms are common side effects of GBS.

Severe pain. In some cases, a person with this syndrome experiences severe nerve pain. Pain can be reduced with the help of treatment.

Blood clotting. People who do not move because of this syndrome are at risk of blood clotting.

Pressure sores. Not moving also makes you risk of being exposed to bedsores (pressure sores), the wound due to long emphasis on the skin because it is lying continuously. Repositioning that often can help avoid this problem.

Severe preliminary symptoms of GBS disease significantly increase the risk of serious long-term complications.

Prevention of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Until now has not been found how to prevent GBS disease. However there is a fact that the syndrome occurs after a viral or bacterial infection, in which case it describes the characteristics of a particular pathogens can activate the immune system inappropriately.

In addition, as there is an increase in the case of Guillain-Barre syndrome in areas where there is a Zika virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that anyone who lives or travels to areas where the Zika virus circulates, you should take care to avoid mosquito bites.

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