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Guillain- Barre syndrome, which is also known as GBS, is a disorder named after George Guillain (1876- 1961) and Jean Barre (1880- 1967), who were the first people to describe and start to understand the disorder. GBS is a disorder in which the immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, which is made up of nerves that extend out from the central nervous system. There are multiple names for this disorder for example it may be called, Acute Idiopathic Polyneuritis, Acute Inflammatory Demyelination, and Landry- Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Guillain- Barre syndrome can affect anybody at any age; people over the age of 40 are more likely to get the disorder than younger people are. Also race and gender do not have anything to do with who is more likely to get GBS. Only about one in 100,000 people get it, so the disorder is very rare. Scientists, doctors, and pharmacologists are working together to learn how to prevent this disorder and to make better therapies available to patients when it happens.
There are many symptoms to GBS like weakness of muscles, tingling sensations in the legs and arms. People can have trouble speaking, chewing, and swallowing. Patients can also have low blood pressure, poor blood pressure, not being able to move their eyes, and also experience back pains. If these symptoms intensify certain muscles cannot be used at all and if it is severe the patient is almost totally paralyzed. If GBS gets this severe it can become life threatening, due to heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure being affected.
This disorder starts to destroy the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons them self in nerve cells. Axons are long, thin extensions of nerve cells that are responsible for carrying nerve signals. The myelin sheath that surrounds the axons, speed up the transmission of nerve signals and allows the transmission of signals over long distances. When the myelin sheaths break down, the nerves cannot transmit signals efficiently. This is why muscles begin to lose their ability to respond to the brain’s commands. The brain also receives fewer sensory signals from the rest of the body, which results in inappropriate signals that cause tingling, “crawling-skin” or painful sensations. Since the legs and arm signals must travel the farthest distances they are the most vulnerable to interruption. This is why muscle weakness and tingling sensations occur first in the arms, feet, fingers, and toes.
The cause of Guillain- Barre syndrome is still unclear to doctors and scientists at this time. Doctors do know that it is not contagious though. Diseases caused by a viral or bacterial infection can lead to GBS. When the disorder is caused this way it is thought that the virus changes the nature of cells in the nervous system so that the immune system treats nerve cells as foreign cells and attacks them. This is known as an autoimmune reaction. Patients that had recently had a surgery or vaccination can end up getting Guillain- Barre syndrome. In 1976 the swine flu, H1N1, vaccination may have led to people getting the disorder. Also GBS may occur in patents that have viral infections such as, AIDS, Herpes Simplex, mononucleosis, respiratory infections, and...
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