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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Guillain-Barre Syndrome
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Alternate Names : Landry-Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body creates antibodies against its own tissue. In people with GBS, the antibodies generally attack the myelin sheath, or lining of the nerves. They may also attack part of the nerves themselves.

What is going on in the body?

Guillain-Barré syndrome is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by an infection, vaccination, or other factors. It causes a severe inflammatory reaction around the nerves. The myelin sheath becomes swollen. Impulses and messages cannot travel along the course of the nerve. In time, nerve impulses are blocked.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Most cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome are triggered by an infection. Two-thirds of the individuals with GBS have had an upper respiratory infection or gastrointestinal infection 1 to 3 weeks before weakness develops. Other infections that may trigger GBS include:

  • chlamydia infections
  • cytomegalovirus infections
  • hepatitis B
  • HIV infections, which cause AIDS
  • mononucleosis
  • mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Some vaccinations may also trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome. These include:

  • flu vaccine
  • immunization against group A streptococcal infections
  • rabies vaccine
  • swine flu immunizations
  • Certain medicines have been identified as triggers for GBS. These include:

  • captopril, used to treat high blood pressure
  • danazol, a hormone derivative
  • gold, which is injected for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • heroin, a highly addictive illegal drug
  • penicillamine, which is used for chelation and to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • streptokinase, used to dissolve blood clots
  • GBS may be triggered by a variety of other factors, such as:

  • blood cancers, especially Hodgkin lymphoma
  • pregnancy
  • surgery
  • No one knows for sure why these factors trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome in some people but not in others. More research is needed in this area.


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    Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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