Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) Causes, Symptoms & More

By elizabeth
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet' National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
  • 2. 'Guillain-Barre Syndrome' World Health Organization,
  • 3. 'Recently Diagnosed GBS: Everything You Need to Know' GBS/CIDP Foundation International,
  • 4. 'Guillain-Barre Syndrome' National Organization for Rare Disorders,
  • 5. 'Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Vaccines' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  • 6. 'Guillain-Barre Syndrome' Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital,
  • 7. 'Multiple sclerosis vs. Guillain-Barre syndrome: Differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment' Bel Marra Health,
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Medical Expert Medical Expert

In Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, which transmits physical sensations and manages muscle movement. GBS symptoms often develop and worsen quickly.

The severity of GBS ranges from mild to life-threatening. Fortunately, it’s a very rare condition and, most often, short-lived. One in 100,000 people is estimated to contract GBS annually, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.1‘Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet’ National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, However, severe cases can cause debilitating symptoms, like breathing difficulties, and require intensive hospital inpatient care. In some cases, individuals affected by GBS suffer long-term or permanent nerve damage.

1. GBS Symptoms

Most cases of GBS start with tingling sensations in the feet, which then spreads to the upper body and arms. This is often paired with muscle weakness in the affected areas. Sometimes pain is also present. As the nerve damage spreads, it becomes difficult to lift things, stand, walk or climb stairs. Onset can take hours, days or weeks.

Other symptoms include double vision, difficulty with bladder control or bowel function, and changes in blood pressure or heart rate. Breathing becomes difficult in about 20 to 30 percent of sufferers.2‘Guillain-Barre Syndrome’ World Health Organization,

Guillain Barre Syndrome

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