Treating Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is the most common form of demyelinating neuropathy in the world
Treating Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Last update: 28 December, 2018

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a form of polyneuropathy that causes muscular weakness. It’s also known as Landry ascending paralysis. This weakness can worsen with time and then disappear without any need for treatment.

The cause of pain in the myelin sheathes (known as demyelination) tends to be an autoimmune problem. The symptoms start with weakness in the legs. Then, the weakness progresses up to the torso.

This polyneuropathy caused by inflammation is characterised by a marked muscular weakness. Often this symptom can last a number of days after an infection, a surgical operation, or a vaccination.

Details about Guillain-Barré Syndrome

The most probable cause is a reaction of the body’s immune system against its own nerves. For this reason, it’s important that a person seeks medical help immediately. After all, symptoms can worsen very rapidly. Symptoms include:

  • General weakness.
  • Loss of sensitivity (in some cases).

Around 8 weeks after a symptom has appears, it may seem to resolve.. Around 30% of people who suffer these symptoms suffer a relapse, sometimes years later. In light of this, it’s important to note that treatment can help patients get better much quicker.

Regarding mortality, only 2% of those affected will die.


Diagnosis of this illness begins with checking for symptoms. The doctor performs a physical exam and interview to review their clinical history.

Then, the doctor will order a series of exhaustive tests to better assess the health of the patient. In these cases, a neurological exam is very useful, by which they can check for loss of reflexes.

Despite the fact that this sounds like a lot of tests, it can actually be done very quickly. Because of this, it will be possible to assess the patient’s health and deliver them the care they need in good time.

Treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome

The first measure to carry out in sufferers is hospitalisation. This because of the quick evolution of symptoms, which can affect the respiratory muscles and cause death.

For this reason, treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome is based on the use of mechanical ventilation and life support measures. In the hospital they must also prevent the appearance of ulcers, using physiotherapy to preserve muscle tone and movement.

Care should focus on infection prevention and monitoring of the following:

  • Breathing.
  • Cardiac activity (to monitor is there is arrhythmia or other complications)
  • Arterial tension (to monitor if there is hypertension or hypotension)

Moreover, the treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome relates to the administration of intravenous immunoglobulin. Plasmapheresis (a method which filters the blood into its separate components) is a good option. The safety of these treatments is reliable. And. they are very effective in reducing the period of hospitalisation and speed up recuperation.

As far as pharmacological treatment goes, it’s important to point out that corticosteroids are not advised for the treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and they will make the condition worse.

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