Guillain-Barre Syndrome Treatment in Abingdon, VA
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare medical disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves—in most cases, the myelin sheath, the nerves' protective covering, is targeted, preventing nerves from transmitting signals to your brain—leading to weakened muscles, tingling in your extremities and even possible paralysis.
Previously, Guillain-Barré syndrome was believed to be a single disorder, while the condition is now thought to occur in several forms, which are:
- Acute inflammatory polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP): the most common form in the U.S., AIDP is characterized by muscle weakness that begins in the lower part of the body and spreads upwards.
- Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS): accounting for 5% of people with Guillain-Barré syndrome in the U.S. but is more common in Asia, MFS is characterized by paralysis which starts in the eyes, and is also associated with unsteady gait.
- Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN): these forms of Guillain-Barré syndrome are most frequent in China, Japan and Mexico, and less common in the U.S.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Abingdon that specializes in Guillain-Barre syndrome treatment, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
Guillain Barre Syndrome Causes
The precise underpinnings of Guillain-Barré syndrome are not yet fully understood. The condition is believed to be caused by a mistaken immune system attack on your nerves, which leads to weakened extremities and tingling, even paralysis in extreme cases. The condition usually presents days or weeks after your digestive tract becomes infected. The most common form of Guillain-Barré syndrome causes your body's protective nerve covering (myelin sheath) to become damaged, cutting off signals to your brain and leading to the symptoms mentioned below.
Guillain Barre Syndrome Symptoms
Tingling and weakness are the most frequently experienced symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which often start in your feet and legs and spread to your upper body and arms. As the condition spreads, muscle weakness can evolve into paralysis. Weakness associated with the condition is most significant within the first two to four weeks after symptoms begin, while recovery usually begins two to four weeks after weakness plateaus. Additional Guillain barre syndrome symptoms may include:
- Prickling “pins and needles” sensations in your fingers, toes, ankles or wrists
- Weakness in your legs that spreads to your upper body
- Instability when walking or climbing stairs
- Difficulty with eye and facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Severe pain that may feel achy or cramp-like and which may worsen at night
- Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function
- Rapid heart rate
- Low or high blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Diagnosis
Symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome often mirror other neurological conditions in its early stages, making it difficult to diagnose. Your healthcare provider will begin with a detailed medical history and a physical examination, and may recommend further diagnostic testing, including:
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture), a test in which a small amount of fluid is taken from the spinal canal in your lower back and tested for a type of change that commonly occurs in people who have Guillain-Barré syndrome.
- Electromyography, a test to study muscle activity in which thin-needle electrodes are inserted into the muscles your healthcare provider wishes to measure.
- Nerve conduction studies, in which electrodes are taped to the skin above your nerves to measure the speed of nerve signals.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Treatment
Guillain-Barre syndrome treatment may consist of two main therapies:
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis), in which the liquid portion of your blood is first removed and separated from your blood cells, after which they are put back into your body which manufactures more plasma to make up for what was removed. Plasmapheresis may work by eliminating plasma of certain antibodies that contribute to the immune system's attack on the peripheral nerves.
- Immunoglobulin therapy, in which healthy antibodies from blood donors are given through a vein (intravenously). High doses of immunoglobulin can block the damaging antibodies that may contribute to Guillain-Barre syndrome.
In addition to these therapies, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to relieve pain and prevent blood clots. Exercise therapy may also be recommended to improve flexibility and strength of your limbs as well as to cope with fatigue.
Guillain Barre Syndrome Prognosis
It is essential to seek treatment for Guillain-Barre syndrome should you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms to ensure any complications (such as heart and breathing problems) are addressed. Your Guillain Barre Syndrome prognosis improves with treatment. Of those adults who receive treatment for Guillain Barre syndrome, about 80% can walk 6 months following initial diagnosis. 60% of patients recover motor strength 1 year following initial diagnosis. About 5-10% of patients may have a very delayed and incomplete recovery. Additionally, children diagnosed with the condition generally recover more completely than adults, hence signaling the importance to treat your children if they experience symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Abingdon that specializes in Guillain-Barre syndrome treatment. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
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