Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until the muscles cannot be used at all and the patient is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening and makes breathing difficult. This state of illness also affects blood pressure or heart rate and is a medical emergency. The patient needs hospitalization in intensive care unit. The condition is reversible, with variable degree of weakness remaining as a sequel or end result of illness which takes considerable time to recover.
Guillain-Barre syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The disorder can develop over the course of hours or days, or it may take up to 3 to 4 weeks. Most people reach the stage of maximum weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness almost all patients experience maximum weakness.
Other signs and symptoms may include difficulty with eye movement, facial movement, speaking, chewing or swallowing, severe pain in the lower back, difficulty with bladder control or intestinal functions, very slow heart rate or low blood pressure, difficulty breathing.
In Guillain-Barre the body's immune system begins to attack the body itself, causing what is known as an autoimmune disease. Usually the cells of the immune system attack only foreign material and invading organisms. In Guillain-Barre syndrome, however, the immune system starts to destroy the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons of many peripheral nerves, or even the axons themselves. The myelin sheath surrounding the axon speeds up the transmission of nerve signals and allows the transmission of signals over long distances.
This results in the muscles to lose their ability to respond to the brain's commands, commands that must be carried through the nerve network. The brain also receives fewer sensory signals from the rest of the body, resulting in loss of sensation on skin. Alternately, the brain may receive inappropriate signals that result in tingling, "crawling-skin," or painful sensations.
Usually Guillain-Barre occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery or vaccinations will trigger the syndrome.The most common triggering factor for Guillain-Barre syndrome appears to be infection with campylobacter, a type of bacteria commonly found in undercooked food, especially poultry. Guillain-Barre may also be triggered by surgery and, in very rare cases, influenza immunizations.
Other triggers include:
A potentially deadly complication of Guillain-Barre syndrome is that the weakness or paralysis can spread to the muscles that control our breathing. About 30 percent of the people who have the disorder will require temporary help from a machine to breathe. About 5 percent will die, despite intensive care. But 80 percent of the people with Guillain-Barre syndrome recover completely or have only minor, residual weakness or abnormal sensations, such as numbness or tingling. Five percent to 10 percent experience more serious, permanent problems with sensation and coordination, including some cases of severe disability. And about one in 10 of those affected is at risk of experiencing a relapse.
Role of Homeopathy in Guillain-Barre syndrome:
Guillain-Barre syndrome starts as an acute illness and many a times becomes life threatening. But usually people recover from the illness almost completely. It is observed that those who have suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome are left with residual weakness, paralytic effects or tingling and crawling sensation for months to follow after an acute attack of the illness. These residual effects really make life uncomfortable. Homeopathy has a great response in overcoming these residual effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome. We strongly recommend that homeopathic treatment should be started with conventional treatment as a complementary treatment for residual weakness and paralytic effects in Guillain-Barre syndrome