Guillain Barre Syndrome is the featured illness for July! GBS is a rare disorder in which the peripheral nervous system (or PNS) is attacked by the immune system. ABout one in 100,000 people get this disorder, and it has no cure but can be treated.
GBS can affect anybody. No sex or age determines who acquires the illness. Typically a person will notice numbness or tingling in the heands or feet at first. It can later spread to the aarms and upper body as it startts to affect more nerves and muscles. The symptoms can greatly intensify and sometimes move on to affect breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. People usually recover fairly well, but recovery can take as long as a few years. Some patients report some remaining weakness after they have been treated.
Nobody knows what causes GBS or why it can affect anybody in any moment. In most cases it does follow a viral/gastrointestinal infection, but since the actual factor that causes the disorder is unknown, it can not be named a "disease". This is because a disorder is named when the patient's symptom patterns and doctor's findings can vary, but the joining factor is not yet discovered. What we do know about GBS is that if left untreated, a patient may not recover, the nerve covering (called myelin sheath) is attacked, and for that reason the nerves can not properly respond to the brain's signals.
In the earliest stages, GBS can be difficult to diagnose because of the unknown determining symptom. If/when symptoms progress, it is easier to rule out other illnesses and with aids like NCVs and reflex tests, it can be correctly diagnosed sooner rather than later. Even though there is no cure, GBS can be treated pretty efficiently with certain therapies. Physical and occupational therapy are reccommended to keep the body from paralyzing itself. Not only these, but two kinds of treatment are equally efficient when it comes to remission. Plasma exchange and immunoglobulin therapy are the best solutions. Immunoglobulin is easier to administer, but both work the same in chances of a full bounce-back. Even though it can take from weeks to years to recover, most patients recover with some weakness but life expectancy does not shorten. There is always the possibility of relapse, but the treatment would remain the same.
If you or someone you know is battling GBS, you are not alone! Keep fighting H.A.R.D.!