Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. It is usually monophasic (happens only once). Recurrence occurs in patients less than 30 years old, with milder symptoms and in Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS).
It occurs after a respiratory infection or stomach flu. The infection causes production of antibodies against the myelin sheath of the nerves and causes demyelination.
Symptoms start after 1-3 weeks from the respiratory or GIT infection.
Numbness in the peripheries and limb pains precede a rapidly ascending muscle weakness (starts in the lower limbs and ascends to affect trunk, respiratory muscles and upper limbs).
The patient may experience difficulties in facial movement, speaking, chewing or swallowing.
Some patients may develop respiratory difficulties and may progress to respiratory failure due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. When this happens, it is an EMERGENCY and the patient will have to be put on mechanical ventilation till recovery occurs.