The nervous system contains neurons that help transmit electrical impulses from the peripheral areas of the body to the brain and vice versa, and your local Lutz chiropractor works closely with your spine and nervous system to keep things running smoothly. Any damage to these neurons may lead to neurologic problems and one of these problems is Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Guillain Barre Syndrome or GBS is an acute polyneuropathy involving the demyelination of the peripheral nerves. Demyelination is the damage to the myelin sheath, a protective covering of the neurons, which helps transmit electrical impulses properly. Without the myelin sheath, there may be problems in the neurologic functioning of an individual.

Guillain Barre Syndrome is especially characterized by ascending paralysis. This involves weakness from the lower extremities and gradually progressing to the torso and upper limbs. This symptom is a result of damage to the peripheral nerves leading to weakness and paralysis that start from the peripheral areas upwards.

Guillain Barre Syndrome is typically not alarming unless the paralysis affects the respiratory muscles that can lead to respiratory distress, arrest and immediate death.

The incidence of Guillain Barre Syndrome is low with a prevalence rate of .00001%. Nevertheless, GBS should still be a concern because of the associated respiratory paralysis and being one of the most common causes of non-trauma paralysis.

Causes of Guillain Barre Syndrome

GBS is commonly a result of an antecedent viral or bacterial infection. The virus tends to travel along the nerves and damage the myelin sheath that covers the nerve cells as a result of autoimmunity. The body tends to produce antibodies to fight the antigens (microorganisms), but the antibodies tend to be directed at healthy nerve cells leading to damage on the affected neurons. Common microorganisms that may precipitate GBS include Campylobacter jejuni, influenza virus, CMV or cytomegalovirus and Chlamydophila pneumoniae.

Symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome

Guillain Barre Syndrome starts as a weakness on the extremities with gradual ascend of weakness and paralysis. There may also be associated fever as a result of an ongoing infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Guillain Barre Syndrome

Diagnosing GBS involves nerve conduction studies to specifically look into nerve conduction and extent of affectation. Aspiration of the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that flows through the brain and spinal cord, can also b done to examine any presence of infection in the CNS that may be causing the condition.

Treatment of GBS usually involves plasmapheresis or the cleansing of the blood to remove antibodies that may be damaging the nerve sheath. Intravenous immunoglobulins may also be administered to remove antigens as well. Aside from the main line of treatment, supportive care may also be involved. Corticosteroids are given as well to reduce the immune function of the body reducing the effects of the antibodies to the nerves. Supportive care may include respiratory support when the respiratory muscles are affected.  Physiotherapy is also involved to help clients return to their optimum functioning especially if ascending paralysis is involved.

Prognosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome

GBS is highly treated with 80% of the cases having complete recovery. Up to 10 to 17% recover with severe disability and 2 to 3% result in death. Most deaths occur due to inadequacy in support equipments and seeking treatment later when the disease has progressed to respiratory paralysis.

So if you are sick or suspect an infection, it is better to consult a physician to prevent the infection from affecting other areas of the body.