Doctors have yet to discover what exactly causes Guillain Barre Syndrome but there are a few conditions that can trigger it. "We don't know for certain but in two- thirds of cases, patients experience the onset of GBS signs and symptoms one to three weeks after a acute viral infection that was respiratory or gastrointestinal in origin, leading most researchers to believe that GBS may result from an autoimmune response". (Simmons, S 2010,). It may also occur with patients with Lupus Erythematous and Hodgkin's disease. There is also a thought that the syndrome can come from the influenza A (H1N1) vaccination. "In 1976, vaccination against a novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus was associated with a statistically significant increase risk for GBS in the forty-two days after vaccination. (June 4,2010, Preliminary results: surveillance for Guillain Barre Syndrome after receipt of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine, Morbidity and Mortality weekly report) "Risk factors for GBS include HIV infection an in rare instances recent surgery, trauma, bone marrow transplant or meningococcal conjugate (menactra) vaccination" (Lugg, J (2010). "One to three people out of 100,000 in the U.S each year suffer from this syndrome" (Lugg, J (2010). The syndrome may occur at any age. It is most common between the ages of thirty to fifty. "It is known that the syndrome is neither contagious or hereditary" (Lugg, J (2010).
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"Signs and symptoms of this syndrome may take days or weeks to develop and days, months or even years to fully disappear" (Simmons, s (2010).Muscle weakness or loss of muscle function affects both sides of the body. Muscle weakness starts in the legs and then spreads to the arms. Patients may notice tingling, foot or hand pain and clumsiness. Other signs and symptoms include uncoordinated movement, loss of reflexes and poor blood pressure control. "GBS is the most frequent cause of acute flaccid paralysis since the elimination of poliomyelitis". (Yuki, N, 2012)."Respiratory failure is thought to be caused by involvement of the muscles of respiration, including the diaphragm and the intercostal" (Simmons S,(2010 )." The progression of GBS usually occurs in three stages, the acute phase, the plateau phase and recovery" (Sulton, L (2002).The first stage, the acute stage, "begins with the onset of first symptoms and continues through the disease's rapid progression until no further symptoms or deterioration occurs" (Sulton, L (2002).This phase usually last up to four weeks. "During the Plateau phase, symptoms remain but don't worsen lasting from a few days to a few weeks". (Sulton, L (2002). "The Recovery phase is when the patient's condition begins to improve, often to full recovery which can take from a few weeks to two years. (Sulton, L (2002).
"A patient admitted with suspected diagnosis of GBS must be assessed immediately, particularly for airway, breathing, and circulation. (Haldeman, D & Zulkosky, K. (2005). There are several disorders that have common symptoms of GBS so it's hard to evaluate and diagnose patients with GBS. "A medical exam may show muscle weakness and problems with involuntary body functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate". (Guillain Barre Syndrome: Medline plus medical encyclopedia, retrieved from www. NIM.NIH.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000684.htm). "The examination will also show that reflexes, such as the ankle or knee jerk, are decreased or missing. (Guillain Barre Syndrome: Medline plus medical encyclopedia retrieved from www. NIM.NIH.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000684.htm).There are a number of different test that can be order from the doctor to help diagnosis GBS. "A cerebrospinal fluid sample may be taken to withdraw fluid so that doctors can see how much protein is present in the patients system". (Lugg, J (2010). "Because the signals traveling along the nerve are slower, a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test can give doctors clues to aid the diagnosis". (Guillain Barre syndrome fact sheet: national institution of Neurological disorders and strokes, retrieved from www.NINDS.NIH.gov/disorders/gbs/details_gbs.htm). Other test include a ECG, Electromyography that test the electrical activity in muscles, nerve conduction velocity test and a pulmonary function test for the lungs.
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There are a few treatments for Guillain Barre Syndrome. "The main medical approaches today are I.V immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg) and Plasma Exchange. (Simmons, S (2010). "Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is understood to block the receptors on microphages preventing an attack on the Schwann cells and myelin" (Lugg, J. (2010). "IVIg can shorten the recovery time by 50%, it is easy to use, readily available, but it is expensive". (Simmons, S. (2010). This therapy is recommended for patients who need help to walk within two to four weeks after neuropathic symptoms start. Reactions to this therapy include anaphylaxis, aseptic meningitis and acute renal failure. "Plasma exchange is recommended for patients who aren't walking within four weeks after symptoms onset, and for patients who are walking within two weeks of symptom onset". (Simmons, S. (2010). "The technique involves filtering problematic immune factors out of the plasma, which is replaced with a colloid substitute". (Simmons, S (2010). .Common adverse reactions include hypotension, bradycardia, fever, chills and rash. Plasma exchange requires more time and staff more than IVIg therapy. It is also more uncomfortable for the patient.
"Researcher's suggests that about 12 % of people with GBS require assistance in undertaking daily living activities two tears after diagnosis and up to 17% of people who were working when GBS was diagnosed were unable to return to work after two years due to ongoing physical limitations". (Lugg, J. (2010). "Recovery can be slow and take years". (Lugg, J. (2010).. "Persistent disability is seen in 20%-30% of adult patients but is less common in children". (Lugg, J. (2010). Most people survive and recover completely. Some people suffer permanent paralysis.
Scientist is researching Guillain Barre Syndrome. They are looking to find new treatments and improve existing ones. "scientists are also looking at the workings of the immune system to find which cells are responsible for beginning and carrying out the attacks on the nervous system"(Haldeman, D & Zulkosky K (2005). Scientist are working very hard to find a cure for Guillain Barre Syndrome.