Image for Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Related Terms

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Background

  • Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), also called acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and Landry's ascending paralysis, is an inflammatory disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the peripheral nerves. The immune system is a complex and highly developed organization in the body that seeks out and kills foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Peripheral nerves are nerves that reside outside of the brain and spinal cord (collectively the central nervous system). Rarely, nerves in the brain or spinal cord are attacked. The peripheral nerves convey sensory information (including pain and temperature) from the body to the brain. Peripheral nerves also convey motor (movement) signals from the brain to the body. In GBS, these functions are affected in varying degrees, from mild to severe.
  • Individuals with GBS may develop symptoms rapidly. Symptoms include weakness and numbness in the legs and arms. Often, paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles, and face will occur. Symptoms of GBS can develop over the course of hours or days, or it may take up to three to four weeks. Scientists have not discovered why some individuals develop GBS. Some experts consider GBS to be an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's own immune system attacks itself.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), GBS is rare and affects an estimated one to two in every 100,000 persons annually in the United States. Any race is susceptible to GBS, but its incidence increases with age.
  • Usually GBS occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory (breathing) or gastrointestinal (digestive) viral infection. Occasionally, surgery or vaccinations will trigger the syndrome.
  • Further content available for subscribers only.

Risk Factors and Causes

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Diagnosis

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Complications

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Treatment

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Integrative Therapies

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Prevention

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.