Guillain-Barré Syndrome Information Page

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Information Page


What research is being done?

Scientists are concentrating on finding new treatments and refining existing ones. Scientists are also looking at the workings of the immune system to find which cells are responsible for beginning and carrying out the attack on the nervous system. The fact that so many cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome begin after a viral or bacterial infection suggests that certain characteristics of some viruses and bacteria may activate the immune system inappropriately, and investigators are searching for those characteristics. Some studies show that normal variations in certain genes could increase the risk of developing GBS; however, more research is needed to identify and confirm associated genes. Using an animal model, scientists hope to identify which proteins in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are at greatest risk of autoimmune attack and which components of the immune system contribute to the autiommune rsponse against the PNS.  A greater understanding of how the imune system damages the PNS could lead to better treatemsns for autoimune disorders such as GBS.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Guillain-Barre Syndrome

×
What research is being done?

Scientists are concentrating on finding new treatments and refining existing ones. Scientists are also looking at the workings of the immune system to find which cells are responsible for beginning and carrying out the attack on the nervous system. The fact that so many cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome begin after a viral or bacterial infection suggests that certain characteristics of some viruses and bacteria may activate the immune system inappropriately, and investigators are searching for those characteristics. Some studies show that normal variations in certain genes could increase the risk of developing GBS; however, more research is needed to identify and confirm associated genes. Using an animal model, scientists hope to identify which proteins in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are at greatest risk of autoimmune attack and which components of the immune system contribute to the autiommune rsponse against the PNS.  A greater understanding of how the imune system damages the PNS could lead to better treatemsns for autoimune disorders such as GBS.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Scientists are concentrating on finding new treatments and refining existing ones. Scientists are also looking at the workings of the immune system to find which cells are responsible for beginning and carrying out the attack on the nervous system. The fact that so many cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome begin after a viral or bacterial infection suggests that certain characteristics of some viruses and bacteria may activate the immune system inappropriately, and investigators are searching for those characteristics. Some studies show that normal variations in certain genes could increase the risk of developing GBS; however, more research is needed to identify and confirm associated genes. Using an animal model, scientists hope to identify which proteins in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are at greatest risk of autoimmune attack and which components of the immune system contribute to the autiommune rsponse against the PNS.  A greater understanding of how the imune system damages the PNS could lead to better treatemsns for autoimune disorders such as GBS.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Guillain-Barre Syndrome


Definition
Definition
Treatment
Treatment
Prognosis
Prognosis
Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials
Organizations
Organizations
Publications
Publications
Definition
Definition

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. It is one of several disorders involving weakness due to peripheral nerve damage caused by the person's immune system. Initial symptoms include unexplained sensations such as tingling in the feet or hands, or pain, followed by weakness on both sides of the body. The weakness can increase in intensity over a period of hours to days to weeks until the muscles cnanot be used at all and the person is almost totally paralyzed. If breathing muscles are affected, the person is often put on a ventilator. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some continue to have some degree of weakness.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. It can occur a few days or weeks after the person has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally, surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances, vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS. Recently, some countries worldwide have reported an increased incidence of GBS following infection with the Zika virus.

A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, which measures the nerve's ability to send a signal, can aid the diagnosis. The cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain contains more protein than usual in someone with GBS, so a physician may decide to perform a spinal tap to obtain a sample of fluid to analyze.

×
Definition

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. It is one of several disorders involving weakness due to peripheral nerve damage caused by the person's immune system. Initial symptoms include unexplained sensations such as tingling in the feet or hands, or pain, followed by weakness on both sides of the body. The weakness can increase in intensity over a period of hours to days to weeks until the muscles cnanot be used at all and the person is almost totally paralyzed. If breathing muscles are affected, the person is often put on a ventilator. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some continue to have some degree of weakness.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. It can occur a few days or weeks after the person has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally, surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances, vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS. Recently, some countries worldwide have reported an increased incidence of GBS following infection with the Zika virus.

A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, which measures the nerve's ability to send a signal, can aid the diagnosis. The cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain contains more protein than usual in someone with GBS, so a physician may decide to perform a spinal tap to obtain a sample of fluid to analyze.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome, but therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most individuals. People with GBS are usualy admitted and treated in a hospital's intensive care unit. Plasmapheresis (also known as plasma exchange) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg) are used. Plasmapheresis seems to reduce the severity and duration of the Guillain-Barré episode. In IVIg therapy, doctors give intravenous injections of the proteins the immune system naturally makes to attack invading organisms.  Both treatments are equally effective if started within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Supportive care is needed to address the many complications of paralysis as the body recovers and damaged nerves begin to heal. This can sometimes require placing the person on a ventilator, a heart monitor, or other machines that assist body function. As individuals begin to improve, they are usually trasnferred from the acute care hospital to a rehabilitation setting, where they can regain strength, receive physical rehabilitation and other therapy to resume actiivties of daily living, and prepare to return to their pre-illness life.

×
Treatment

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome, but therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most individuals. People with GBS are usualy admitted and treated in a hospital's intensive care unit. Plasmapheresis (also known as plasma exchange) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg) are used. Plasmapheresis seems to reduce the severity and duration of the Guillain-Barré episode. In IVIg therapy, doctors give intravenous injections of the proteins the immune system naturally makes to attack invading organisms.  Both treatments are equally effective if started within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Supportive care is needed to address the many complications of paralysis as the body recovers and damaged nerves begin to heal. This can sometimes require placing the person on a ventilator, a heart monitor, or other machines that assist body function. As individuals begin to improve, they are usually trasnferred from the acute care hospital to a rehabilitation setting, where they can regain strength, receive physical rehabilitation and other therapy to resume actiivties of daily living, and prepare to return to their pre-illness life.

Definition
Definition

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. It is one of several disorders involving weakness due to peripheral nerve damage caused by the person's immune system. Initial symptoms include unexplained sensations such as tingling in the feet or hands, or pain, followed by weakness on both sides of the body. The weakness can increase in intensity over a period of hours to days to weeks until the muscles cnanot be used at all and the person is almost totally paralyzed. If breathing muscles are affected, the person is often put on a ventilator. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some continue to have some degree of weakness.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. It can occur a few days or weeks after the person has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally, surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances, vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS. Recently, some countries worldwide have reported an increased incidence of GBS following infection with the Zika virus.

A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, which measures the nerve's ability to send a signal, can aid the diagnosis. The cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain contains more protein than usual in someone with GBS, so a physician may decide to perform a spinal tap to obtain a sample of fluid to analyze.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome, but therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most individuals. People with GBS are usualy admitted and treated in a hospital's intensive care unit. Plasmapheresis (also known as plasma exchange) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg) are used. Plasmapheresis seems to reduce the severity and duration of the Guillain-Barré episode. In IVIg therapy, doctors give intravenous injections of the proteins the immune system naturally makes to attack invading organisms.  Both treatments are equally effective if started within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Supportive care is needed to address the many complications of paralysis as the body recovers and damaged nerves begin to heal. This can sometimes require placing the person on a ventilator, a heart monitor, or other machines that assist body function. As individuals begin to improve, they are usually trasnferred from the acute care hospital to a rehabilitation setting, where they can regain strength, receive physical rehabilitation and other therapy to resume actiivties of daily living, and prepare to return to their pre-illness life.

Prognosis
Prognosis

Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and rapid, unexpected onset. Fortunately, 70% of people with GBS eventually experience full recovery. With careful intensive care and successful treatment of infection, autonomic dysfunction, and other medical complications, even those individuals with respiratory failure usually survive.

Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all individuals are at their weakest. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. About 15 percent of individuals experience long-term weakness, and muscle strengh may not return uniformly.

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Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and rapid, unexpected onset. Fortunately, 70% of people with GBS eventually experience full recovery. With careful intensive care and successful treatment of infection, autonomic dysfunction, and other medical complications, even those individuals with respiratory failure usually survive.

Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all individuals are at their weakest. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. About 15 percent of individuals experience long-term weakness, and muscle strengh may not return uniformly.

Prognosis
Prognosis

Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and rapid, unexpected onset. Fortunately, 70% of people with GBS eventually experience full recovery. With careful intensive care and successful treatment of infection, autonomic dysfunction, and other medical complications, even those individuals with respiratory failure usually survive.

Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all individuals are at their weakest. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. About 15 percent of individuals experience long-term weakness, and muscle strengh may not return uniformly.

Definition

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. It is one of several disorders involving weakness due to peripheral nerve damage caused by the person's immune system. Initial symptoms include unexplained sensations such as tingling in the feet or hands, or pain, followed by weakness on both sides of the body. The weakness can increase in intensity over a period of hours to days to weeks until the muscles cnanot be used at all and the person is almost totally paralyzed. If breathing muscles are affected, the person is often put on a ventilator. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of GBS, although some continue to have some degree of weakness.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. It can occur a few days or weeks after the person has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally, surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances, vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS. Recently, some countries worldwide have reported an increased incidence of GBS following infection with the Zika virus.

A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, which measures the nerve's ability to send a signal, can aid the diagnosis. The cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the spinal cord and brain contains more protein than usual in someone with GBS, so a physician may decide to perform a spinal tap to obtain a sample of fluid to analyze.

Treatment

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome, but therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most individuals. People with GBS are usualy admitted and treated in a hospital's intensive care unit. Plasmapheresis (also known as plasma exchange) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg) are used. Plasmapheresis seems to reduce the severity and duration of the Guillain-Barré episode. In IVIg therapy, doctors give intravenous injections of the proteins the immune system naturally makes to attack invading organisms.  Both treatments are equally effective if started within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Supportive care is needed to address the many complications of paralysis as the body recovers and damaged nerves begin to heal. This can sometimes require placing the person on a ventilator, a heart monitor, or other machines that assist body function. As individuals begin to improve, they are usually trasnferred from the acute care hospital to a rehabilitation setting, where they can regain strength, receive physical rehabilitation and other therapy to resume actiivties of daily living, and prepare to return to their pre-illness life.

Prognosis

Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and rapid, unexpected onset. Fortunately, 70% of people with GBS eventually experience full recovery. With careful intensive care and successful treatment of infection, autonomic dysfunction, and other medical complications, even those individuals with respiratory failure usually survive.

Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all individuals are at their weakest. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. About 15 percent of individuals experience long-term weakness, and muscle strengh may not return uniformly.

What research is being done?

Scientists are concentrating on finding new treatments and refining existing ones. Scientists are also looking at the workings of the immune system to find which cells are responsible for beginning and carrying out the attack on the nervous system. The fact that so many cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome begin after a viral or bacterial infection suggests that certain characteristics of some viruses and bacteria may activate the immune system inappropriately, and investigators are searching for those characteristics. Some studies show that normal variations in certain genes could increase the risk of developing GBS; however, more research is needed to identify and confirm associated genes. Using an animal model, scientists hope to identify which proteins in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are at greatest risk of autoimmune attack and which components of the immune system contribute to the autiommune rsponse against the PNS.  A greater understanding of how the imune system damages the PNS could lead to better treatemsns for autoimune disorders such as GBS.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Patient Organizations
GBS/CIDP Foundation International
375 East Elm Street
Suite 101
Conshohocken
PA
Conshohocken, PA 19428
Tel: 610-667-0131; 866-224-3301
Publications

Fact sheet on neurological diagnosis and testing, prepared by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).    

Miller Fisher syndrome information sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) fact sheet produced by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Patient Organizations