Guillain Barre Infection is a rare yet critical condition of the peripheral nervous system. It happens when the body’s immune system itself attacks part of the nervous system. The exact cause of Guillain-Barré infection is still unknown. However, most people develop the condition after having a viral or bacterial infection. It is thought that infection may trigger the immune system to destroy nerve roots and peripheral nerves.
Guillain Barre Infection: Symptoms
The symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome often develop 2-4 weeks after a minor infection, such as flu, sore throat or gastroenteritis. Symptoms start in your feet and legs before spreading to your arms and hands. At first, you may have:
- pain, tingling, and numbness
- progressive muscle weakness that usually affects both sides of your body and may become worse over several days
- balance problems and unsteadiness (unable to walk unaided)
Guillain Barre Infection: Diagnosis
Guillain Barre syndrome can be diagnose from your symptoms and through an examination carry out by a doctor. If you have progress muscle weakness or paralysis recently, you may have the condition.
Sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose Guillain Barre Syndrome since symptoms vary from person to person and could be similar to other nervous system disorders. Blood tests are necessary to rule out other conditions. In hospitals, two special tests are usually conduct to exclude other possible causes and confirm a problem in the nerves.
1. Electromyography (EMG)
EMG measures the health of your muscles as well as the nerves that control them.
- To test the muscles, a needle electrode is stuck to the muscle to make an electrical record of your muscle activity. It helps determine whether your muscles react when certain nerves are stimulate. The muscles of Guillain Barre patients may not respond due to nerve damage.
- To test the nerves, a small, metal disc (a surface electrode) is insert into your skin to stimulate the nerves with an electric shock. The response from your nerves is measure. Your nerve responses might be slower than normal if you have Guillain Barre syndrome, even though the changes may be minor in the early stages.
2. Lumbar puncture
It is a procedure conducted under local anaesthetic that means inserting a needle into the lumbar spinal canal (the space in the lower spine – beneath the end of the spinal cord). It is used to measure the protein levels and cell count in the cerebrospinal fluid, and to rule out other causes of nerve inflammation.
Guillain Barre Infection: Treatment
Treatment can reduce your symptoms and speed up your recovery. You should be treated in the hospital, where your condition will be closely monitored. Depending on the severity of your condition, you will check in:
- a general ward
- a neurology ward
- an intensive care unit (ICU) – a particular ward providing intensive care for those who are ill or in an unstable condition
- a high-dependency unit (HDU) – more intense treatment is offered here than in a general ward
If you have difficulty breathing, you will be equipped with a ventilator (a machine that assists in breathing). Around 25 percent of people with Guillain-Barré syndrome need a ventilator.
Monitoring your condition
Most patients need to spend a few weeks or months in hospitals. This way, they can be carefully monitor, and their breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure can also be regularly check. Painkillers will be given if they are in pain. Once they start to recover, they will be move to a rehabilitation ward or a general hospital ward before being discharge. It is advisable for them to continue receiving treatment to help their recovery.
Corticosteroids are not recommend for the treatment of Guillain Barre syndrome. Even though corticosteroids are often use to reduce inflammation, there is no evidence to ensure they offer a significant benefit in healing this condition.
Two main treatments for cases of Guillain Barre syndrome are:
1. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg)
Immunoglobulin is also known as antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that the immune system produces to destroy harmful viruses and bacteria. The immune system is the body’s defense against infection and sickness. During IVIg, healthy immunoglobulin will be taken from blood donors and given to the patients intravenously (directly into a vein). The healthy antibodies will block and destroy the harmful antibodies attacking their nerves. A dose of IVIg will be give every day for around five days.
2. Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis)
Plasma is the fluid in blood that transports platelets and blood cells around the body. It consists of a number of substances, such as proteins. During plasma exchange, the patients are connect to a machine that removes some of their blood. The plasma is withdrawn from the blood cells. The blood cells are then return to their body without the harmful plasma cells that destroy the nerves. Their blood cells will produce healthy plasma to replace the harmful one that was remove. Depending on how severe their condition is, they may need several sessions of plasma exchange.
Guillain Barre Infection: Complications
Some people do not recover fully from Guillain Barre syndrome and suffer long-term complications. Possible complications involve:
- loss of balance
- loss of sensation that may lead to a lack of co-ordination
- muscle weakness in your legs and arms
- inability to walk independently (for example, needing a wheelchair)
- problems with your sense of touch known as dysaesthesia, which may be feel as a burning or tingling sensation
About a quarter of people with Guillain Barre syndrome still suffer some muscle weakness after three years. Some patients also experience persistent fatigue (extreme tiredness). A small number of them may have a relapse of symptoms such as tingling and muscle weakness years later.
About one in 20 dies from Guillain Barre infection. It is often the result of life-threatening complications emerging during the first few weeks of the condition. For instance:
- bowel obstruction
- heart rhythm disorders (cardiac arrest)
- infections – especially respiratory infections in those who are on a ventilator
- respiratory failure – your lungs fail to provide enough oxygen for the rest of your body
The risk is high for elderly people and those with certain underlying conditions, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Send this post to your friends: