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Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a medical condition in which there is a rapid-onset weakness of the limbs as a result of an acute polyneuropathy, a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. The disease is usually triggered by an infection.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

About Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body.

These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening - potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate - and is considered a medical emergency.

Such an individual is often put on a ventilator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems such as an abnormal heart beat, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, although some continue to have a certain degree of weakness.

Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, however, afflicting only about one person in 100,000. Usually Guillain-Barré occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection...Read more about Guillain-Barré Syndrome NIH - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Multidiscliplinary care for Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Guillain‐Barré syndrome (GBS) is a neurological disease which generally presents with worsening weakness and altered sensation and, not uncommonly, difficulties with breathing. It can cause long‐term disability which is amenable to rehabilitative treatment, delivered by a 'multidisciplinary' team that is made up of different disciplines (for example, doctors, nurses, therapists) working in a co‐ordinated and organised manner.

Corticosteroids for Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Guillain‐Barré syndrome is an uncommon paralysing illness, usually caused by autoimmune inflammation of nerves. In 25% of patients it leads to a requirement for artificial ventilation. About 5% of patients die and about 10% are left with persistent disability. Corticosteroid drugs (such as prednisolone) reduce inflammation and so should theoretically lessen nerve damage. We did not find any new trials in the update of this review but we had previously found eight trials with 653 participants. However, only six trials with 587 participants gave information about the primary outcome measure for this review, change in a seven‐point disability scale. When the results of these six trials were pooled there was no significant difference in this or any other outcome. This result was considered unreliable because of marked variations between the trials. In four small trials of oral corticosteroids, with 120 participants, in total there was significantly less improvement after four weeks with corticosteroids than without corticosteroids. In two large trials with a combined total of 467 participants, there was a trend towards more benefit from intravenous corticosteroids in improvement in disability after four weeks but this trend was not significant. Corticosteroids were not associated with a significant increase in harm except that diabetes was significantly more common. Unexpectedly, high blood pressure was much less common in the corticosteroid‐treated patients. The lack of more obvious benefit from corticosteroids is not understood but might be because the drugs have a harmful effect on muscles which counteracts the benefit from reducing inflammation in nerves.

Drug treatment for pain in Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Our aim in this review was to find out whether medicines for pain in Guillain‐Barré syndrome (GBS) are safe and effective.

See all (31)

Summaries for consumers

Multidiscliplinary care for Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Guillain‐Barré syndrome (GBS) is a neurological disease which generally presents with worsening weakness and altered sensation and, not uncommonly, difficulties with breathing. It can cause long‐term disability which is amenable to rehabilitative treatment, delivered by a 'multidisciplinary' team that is made up of different disciplines (for example, doctors, nurses, therapists) working in a co‐ordinated and organised manner.

Corticosteroids for Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Guillain‐Barré syndrome is an uncommon paralysing illness, usually caused by autoimmune inflammation of nerves. In 25% of patients it leads to a requirement for artificial ventilation. About 5% of patients die and about 10% are left with persistent disability. Corticosteroid drugs (such as prednisolone) reduce inflammation and so should theoretically lessen nerve damage. We did not find any new trials in the update of this review but we had previously found eight trials with 653 participants. However, only six trials with 587 participants gave information about the primary outcome measure for this review, change in a seven‐point disability scale. When the results of these six trials were pooled there was no significant difference in this or any other outcome. This result was considered unreliable because of marked variations between the trials. In four small trials of oral corticosteroids, with 120 participants, in total there was significantly less improvement after four weeks with corticosteroids than without corticosteroids. In two large trials with a combined total of 467 participants, there was a trend towards more benefit from intravenous corticosteroids in improvement in disability after four weeks but this trend was not significant. Corticosteroids were not associated with a significant increase in harm except that diabetes was significantly more common. Unexpectedly, high blood pressure was much less common in the corticosteroid‐treated patients. The lack of more obvious benefit from corticosteroids is not understood but might be because the drugs have a harmful effect on muscles which counteracts the benefit from reducing inflammation in nerves.

Drug treatment for pain in Guillain‐Barré syndrome

Our aim in this review was to find out whether medicines for pain in Guillain‐Barré syndrome (GBS) are safe and effective.

See all (10)

Terms to know

Neurological
Having to do with nerves or the nervous system.
Neurologist
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
Peripheral
On or near an edge or constituting an outer boundary; the outer area.
Peripheral Nervous System
The nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.
Polyneuropathy
Polyneuropathy is damage or disease affecting peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy) in roughly the same areas on both sides of the body, featuring weakness, numbness, pins-and-needles, and burning pain. It usually begins in the hands and feet and may progress to the arms and legs; and sometimes to other parts of the body.

More about Guillain-Barré Syndrome

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Also called: Guillain-Barré

Other terms to know: See all 5
Neurological, Neurologist, Peripheral

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