Guillian Barre Syndrome
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a very rare condition that results when the body's immune system attacks the nerves, resulting in weakness and numbness to the extremities. Overtime, the syndrome can progress to include complete paralysis. This rare syndrome only affects about two out of every 100,000 people and there’s no apparent cause for the condition. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but symptoms can be reduced with proper treatment.
Often, symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome begin as a tingling or numbness of the feet and legs, which gradually spreads to the upper body and arms. Overtime, the symptoms can progress to include the fingers, toes and face. The eventual progression of the disorder causes muscle weakness and paralysis. As the condition progresses, it makes it difficult to walk, speak and chew. Eye movement and swallowing can become difficult as well. Severe lower back pain is associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome as well. Overtime, bladder and intestinal functions decrease as well as heart rate and blood pressure. It’s not uncommon to experience difficulty breathing.
Complications of Guillain-Barre syndrome are likely to occur and can be fatal. As the syndrome progresses, the muscles responsible for controlling breathing can cease to function, which often results in the need for a machine to breathe. Although some people do recover from this disorder, others may not or can have frequent episodes of the Guillain-Barre syndrome symptoms. If this occurs, full recovery can be slow. Long term complications of the syndrome include permanent loss of sensation, coordination and death, but the occurrence of this is rare. Usually, one in ten people with the syndrome will experience these severe complications.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is diagnosed using nerve function tests and a lumbar puncture. After properly diagnosing the condition treatment can commence. Treatment for Guillain-Barre syndrome includes plasmapheresis, which is a plasma exchange used to cleanse the blood from damaging antibodies. Intravenous immunoglobulin is another treatment for this syndrome as well. This involves using blood donors to block dangerous antibodies that can worsen the condition.