Guillain-Barre syndrome

Alternative Names

Landry-Guillain-Barre syndrome; Acute idiopathic polyneuritis; Infectious polyneuritis; Acute inflammatory polyneuropathy; Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

Definition of Guillain-Barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious disorder that occurs when the body’s defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes .

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disorder (the body’s immune system attacks itself). Exactly what triggers Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown. The syndrome may occur at any age, but is most common in people of both sexes between ages 30 and 50.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Guillain-Barre can get worse very quickly. It may take only a few hours to reach the most severe symptoms, but weakness that increases over several days is also common.

Signs and tests

A history of increasing muscle weakness and paralysis may be a sign of Guillain-Barre syndrome, especially if there was a recent illness.

Treatment

There is no cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, many treatments are available to help reduce symptoms, treat complications, and speed up recovery.

Expectations (prognosis)

Recovery can take weeks, months, or years. Most people survive and recover completely. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 30% of patients still have some weakness after 3 years. Mild weakness may persist for some people.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/15/2010

Superficial anterior muscles

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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