Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare paralytic polyneuropathy. This auto-immune disorder attacks the peripheral nervous system. Moreover, it is a post-disease that usually follows an infection. Recently, many Covid-19 infected or recovered people were diagnosed with this syndrome.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Causes
The common causes of the syndrome can be a viral or bacterial infection, recent surgery, or vaccination. Pathogens like Epstein-Barr virus, Zika virus, Cytomegalovirus, and Campylobacter jejuni (which causes gastroenteritis) cause the most common infections preceding the syndrome.
The process by which Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs is known as molecular mimicry. When infection-causing pathogens enter the body, the immune system's B-cells manufacture antibodies to kill them. These antibodies also act against proteins found on the nerve cells. Antibodies attack proteins on the axon and myelin sheath of the motor nerve cell.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Symptoms
The notable symptoms of the syndrome are:
- Weakness of muscles, beginning from the lower part of the body (feet), ascends upwards symmetrically.
- Loss of peripheral sensation.
- Peripheral neuropathy decreases reflexes
- May affect cranial nerves, leading to weakness of facial nerves, which causes difficulty in speaking, swallowing, or chewing.
- Neuropathic pain
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Diagnosis
There is no particular test to diagnose Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, doctors identify the syndrome through clinical analysis.
Brighton Criteria is used for the diagnosis of this syndrome. There are also some supportive investigations that aid in confirming the presence of the disorder. Nerve conduction studies show reduced signals throughout the nerves when suffering from the syndrome. In addition, lumbar punctures are used to test the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid). When infected, CSF contains raised protein with cell count and glucose at a normal level.
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Guillain-Barre Syndrome Treatment
Though there is no treatment earmarked for the syndrome there are various methods that can be used to help cure symptoms, arrest severity, and begin the process of a speed recovery:
- The patient will be given immunoglobulin containing healthy antibodies via a vein (intravenously). High doses of immunoglobulin can lessen the dangerous antibodies that might cause Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- Plasma exchange also eliminates some harmful antibodies.
- Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis treats pulmonary embolism and prevents blood clotting. Pulmonary embolism is the leading reason for deaths due to Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- In addition, intubation, ventilation, and admitting the patient to the intensive care unit help handle respiratory failures in severe cases.
Supportive care is highly recommended since the syndrome weakens the muscles.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Prognosis
Guillain-Barre syndrome being the reason for death is a rare phenomenon. Almost 80% of people suffering from the Guillain-Barre syndrome get fully recovered.
Here are some observations:
- Six months following diagnosis, around 80% of adult patients can walk freely.
- One year following diagnosis, about 60% of adult patients fully restore their muscle strength.
- Approximately 5% to 10% of adults have delayed and incomplete recovery.
- Children, who have a lower risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, usually recover more completely than adults.
- 5% of patients with the syndrome die due to complications.
To sum up, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is an immune system disorder in which immune cells assault the nerves, causing weakness and trembling in the legs and arms. Though it is uncommon, it can last a few years or a lifetime. Treatments can help control the illness, but there is no known cure.
FAQs on Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Q1. Are there any long-term effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome?
The recovery rate is high in Guillain-Barre syndrome. It is around 80%. However, there are cases where people suffer from post-recovery side effects, including neurological disabilities like weakness, slight neuropathic pain, and numbness. The rate of people having long-term effects is 15% approximately.
Q2. How long will it take to recover from Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
It takes months or years to fully recover from the damage to the peripheral nervous system by the Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Usually, the recovery period is of around six months to one year but there is also a possibility of it lasting for a lifetime.
Q3. What happens if you don't treat Guillain-Barre syndrome?
If left untreated, the symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome will reach their peak in two-four weeks and then paralysis of the whole body ultimately. It can be fatal and lead to the death of the patient. Moreover, if paralysis affects the respiratory cells of the diaphragm and chest muscles, it hinders respiration.
Q4. What can be done to avoid Guillain-Barre syndrome?
Scientists and doctors are yet to tell the measures to prevent the Guillain-Barre syndrome. The reason for the syndrome is still not clear as it follows a bacterial and viral infection, immunizing vaccination, and surgery.