What is Guillain-Barre syndrome?
Guillain-Barre (gee-YAH-buh-RAY) syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder involving nerves that control movements and bodily functions (peripheral nerves). Weakness and tingling in feet, legs and arms are usually the first symptoms. The disease can progress quickly and may eventually paralyze the whole body. In severe cases it is a medical emergency requiring intensive care hospitalization. A severe case of GBS can be fatal without immediate medical attention. Mild cases may only cause brief weakness.
While the cause is unknown, GBS is often linked to an infection before symptoms begin. Several treatments can ease symptoms and shorten the illness, but there is no known cure for GBS. It can affect people of all ages but is more common after age 50, and slightly more common in men than in women. Most people with GBS (60%-80%) are able to walk again after about six months. However, there can be after effects including weakness, numbness and fatigue. The GBS death rate is 4%-7%.
There are several types of GBS including: