Guillain barre syndrome
Guillain Barre Syndrome (Illustration /

Guillain Barre Syndrome: 8 Risk Factors, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The Guillain Barré syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease. In this disease, the immune system that is supposed to protect precisely attacks the peripheral nervous system responsible for controlling the movement of the body.

As a result, sufferers of the Guillain-Barré syndrome can experience gradual symptoms that begin with tingling and pain in the leg and hand muscles. Furthermore, sufferers of this disease experience weakening on both sides of the body muscles from the legs and spread to the upper body, even down to the eye muscles. There can also be coordination disorders.

Pain symptoms do not have to be experienced by all sufferers of the Guillain-Barré syndrome because some of them do not feel it. But on the other hand, some feel unbearable pain, not only on the feet and hands, but also on the spine.

In the case of severe Guillain-Barré syndrome, the sufferer has symptoms of dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, indigestion, double or blurred vision, temporary muscle paralysis (facial muscles, feet, hands, even respiratory muscles), hypertension, arrhythmia or heart rate irregularities, and loss of consciousness or fainting.

Guillain Barre Syndrome Risk Factors

There are many factors that can increase a person’s risk of experiencing this disease, including:

  • Age. Older people are more at risk of developing the disease.
  • Gender. Men are more at risk than women.
  • Have other respiratory or gastrointestinal infections such as flu, indigestion, and pneumonia
  • Has HIV/AIDS infection.
  • Mononuclear infection.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Have had surgery or have had injections.

Guillain Barre Syndrome Causes

Peripheral nerve cells have axons coated by myelin sheaths that play a role in accelerating the delivery of electrical impulses. In GBS, a demyelinating process occurs that is characterized by damage to this sheath. Not only is the myelin sheath disturbed, the damage can also attack the axon shrouded in it.

GBS is an autoimmune disease, which means that damage to the sheath is caused by a component of the body’s immune system. It is often triggered by infection by bacteria or viruses. A bacterium often associated with the GBS is Campylobacter that attacks the digestive system. Viruses often associated with GBS are Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and HIV.

Guillain Barre Syndrome Symptoms

The initial symptoms that can be felt when experiencing Guillain barre syndrome are feeling such as being stabbed in the tip of the toes and hands, or numbness in that part of the body. The legs feel heavy and stiff or hardened, the arms feel weak and the palms can’t grasp tightly or rotate things properly.

Within a few weeks, the initial symptoms can disappear, sufferers usually do not feel the need for treatment. Even sufferers may find it difficult to explain it to the team of doctors to ask for further treatment, as the symptoms will disappear at the time of examination.

But at a later stage, symptoms reappear, such as a hard-to-step leg, an arm becomes weak, then doctors discover the reflex nerve of the arm has lost function. Here are the other symptoms you’ll encounter:

  • Lost hand and foot reflexes.
  • Itching or weakness in the hands and feet.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Can’t move freely.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Abnormal heartbeat.
  • Blurry or squinting vision (seeing 2 shadows from 1 object).
  • Breathing heavily.
  • It’s hard to swallow.

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Guillain Barre Syndrome Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the Guillain-Barré syndrome is quite difficult in the early stages due to its symptoms similar to other neurological diseases. Some neurological diseases with the same symptoms as this syndrome include botulism, meningitis or poisoning of metal materials such as arsenic, mercury, and tin.

The doctor will ask for symptoms and perform a physical examination, especially neurologically. A supporting examination will be performed to confirm the diagnosis, such as:

A spinal tap or lumbar function

The procedure takes cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and will be tested for protein levels. People with the Guillain-Barré syndrome have high levels of protein.


This neural function test reads the electrical activity of the muscles. So it can check muscle weakness due to nerve or muscle damage.

Nerve conduction test

This nerve conduction test can check how well the nerves and muscles respond to small electrical stimuli.

Last Updated on July 15, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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