Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment for Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disease severe, in which the own immune system becomes to putt the nerve cells, leading to inflammation in the nerves and, consequently, weakness and muscle paralysis and can be fatal. The diagnosis of the syndrome in the early stages is difficult, because the symptoms are similar to other neurological diseases.

The syndrome has a rapid progression and the majority of patients discharged after 4 weeks, however the time to full recovery can take months or years. Most of the patients recover and to walk again after 6 months to 1 year of treatment, but there are some that have greater difficulty and need about 3 years to recover.

The main symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome can develop quickly and worsen over time, and may leave the individual paralyzed in less than 3 days. However, not all patients are severely affected because some may only exhibit weakness in the arms and legs.

The symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome may be:

  • Muscle weakness, that usually begins in the legs, but after it reaches the arms, diaphragm and also the muscles of the face and the mouth, damaging speech and the power supply;
  • Tingling and loss of feeling in the arms and legs;
  • Pain in the back, in the hips and thighs;
  • Palpitations in the chest, accelerated heart;
  • Changes of pressure, and there may be high pressure or low;
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing, due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles and digestive;
  • Difficulty controlling the urine and the faeces;
  • Fear, anxiety, fainting, and vertigo.

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When the diaphragm is reached, the patient starts to experience difficulty breathing, and in this case it is important that the patient be connected to the apparatus for breathing. If this does not happen, the patient may come to death, since the respiratory muscles do not work, resulting in suffocation.

In the case of suspected Guillain-Barré syndrome should quickly go to the hospital or to a neurologist for tests that may complete the diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome and, thus, avoid complete paralysis. See the talk to the doctor in the query.

What causes Guillain-Barré syndrome

The main cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is the infection by Zika Virus, which is transmitted by the bite of the mosquito Aedes aegypti. However, this disease can also be the consequence of bacterial infections, respiratory or intestinal, in which there is neurological impairment.

Due to changes in the immune system, the body goes to attack the own peripheral nervous system, destroying the sheath of myelin, which is the membrane that covers the nerves and speeds up the conduction of nerve impulse, resulting in the symptoms. To lose the sheath of myelin, the nerves become inflamed and this prevents the signal nervous to be transmitted to the muscles, leading to muscle weakness and the tingling sensations in the legs and arms, for example.

Many people before they are diagnosed with the Guillain-Barré syndrome have been vaccinated recently, they did some surgery or had diseases such as gastroenteritis, or viral infections such as: Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, HIV, Dengue or Zika virus.

How is the diagnosis made

The diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the early stages is difficult, because the symptoms are similar to several other diseases in which there is neurological impairment.

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The diagnosis is confirmed through the analysis of the symptoms and examinations, such as magnetic resonance imaging, lumbar puncture, electrocardiogram and eletroneuromiografia, which is an examination done with the aim of evaluating the conduction of the nervous impulse. Understand more about the examination of eletroneuromiografia.

All patients diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome must remain admitted to the hospital to be properly monitored and treated, because when this disease is not treated, it can lead to death due to paralysis of the muscles.

How is the treatment

The treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome aims to relieve the symptoms and speed up recovery. The initial treatment should be done in the hospital, but after discharge, the treatment must be continued and it is recommended to do physical therapy.

The treatment done in the hospital is plasmapheresis has, in which blood is removed from the body, filtered to remove the substances that are causing the disease, and then returned to the body. Thus, plasmapheresis has is able to retain the antibodies responsible for attacking the immune system. Learn how it is done plasmapheresis has.

Another treatment option is the injection of high doses of immunoglobulins (antibodies) against the antibodies that are attacking the nerves, reducing inflammation and the destruction of the myelin sheath.

However, when there are serious complications, such as difficulty in breathing, heart problems or gastrointestinal, may be necessary for the patient to be hospitalized to be monitored and other complications are prevented. Learn more about the treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome.

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