Wellness Coaching Advice for a healthy life

What Are Guillain-Barre Symptoms?



Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. This disorder can happen to anyone at anytime, one sex is not more prone than the other, although people over 55 are more at risk. It is not hereditary according to research. Studies show the stomach flu is linked to GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome). Some triggers of this condition are vaccines, pregnancy, minor surgery or have no reason what so ever. If you are thinking of getting the flu shot or the H1N1, do your research, there are links between the vaccinations and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In a pubmed.gov article, 25 out of 83 patients reported symptoms and were diagnosed to have GBS also received the H1N1 shot in 2009. It is unlikely for a pregnant woman to get GBS but a few cases have been reported. Case reports show a small percentage of Guillain-Barre being triggered after surgery.

Guillain-Barre Symptoms

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The CDC says this is a rare disease affecting 1-2 in every 100,000 persons. There is also no known way to prevent it since it’s cause is unknown. Symptoms of GBS include tingling, weakness in the extremities, and paralysis of the face, legs, arms, and breathing muscles. Your immune system which is programmed to attack foreign bacterial cells are attacking your nerves instead and depleting the myelin sheath.

Think of it this way, you take an electrical wire and strip the insulation off, the wires are now exposed and will not conduct electricity. Your nerves can not send messages properly and interfere with the motor functions. You will feel the tingles and problems breathing as a result. Only in severe cases is a patient hospitalized. A severe case would be total paralyzation, which is life threatening. The nerves in the spinal cord are rarely attacked for whatever reason. It can take time to diagnose a patient due to the similarity in symptoms shown in various other conditions. A physician can take a fluid sample from your spine using a needle after a physical examination of your body. Doctors can also use electromyography and nerve conduction tests.

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The time-frame for symptoms to show themselves varies from hours to weeks in some cases. It doesn’t seem to be set and like most conditions, and there is no known cure. It can take months or years for people to fully get over this condition. Typically, the symptoms will show a few days after a viral infection. The longer a person waits to be diagnosed the more severe the condition will become. Within a month from the first symptoms, patients are at their weakest. Most patients seem to recover even though they may still have residual weakness.


Traditional Western Treatment-AKA Allopathic Medicine

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Allopathic treatments of GBS are plasma exchange, steroid treatments, and high dose immunoglobulin therapy.  The use of ventilator machines and heart monitors are two of the machines currently used to assist treatments.  Plasma exchange, as called plasmapheresis, is where they would filter the blood to separate white blood cells and red blood cells from the plasma for processing, then return the blood cells into the blood stream.    The amount of plasma they extract is enough that if your body didn’t replenish it that you would go into shock.  For an adult weighing 154lbs, this treatment costs around $3,980.00.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a quote online with my insurance for this procedure.    Coverage will depend on the type of medical insurance and the physician.  It is actually more expensive to get the high dose immunoglobulin therapy, which costs approximately $10,305.00.

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This therapy uses intravenous injections of the proteins that the immune system uses naturally to fight invaders.  The proteins come from a pool of healthy donors.  The clinical trials show steroid hormone treatments to be ineffective.  This doesn’t take into account the hospital stay, whether you have insurance or not, the blood work, the tests etc.  You can also include in your cost the fact that you would have to be out of work and if you have a job that doesn’t pay you if you are out then it costs more.  You lose pay and get behind in bills and have now a medical bill so this can be time consuming and costly.  In an article I found on pubmed.gov the median hospital stay ranged from 21.3 days to 47.4 days in a total of 69 patients.  It seems the earlier the patients report the symptoms to the physician the sooner they will get treatment and be out of the hospital.


Alternative Treatments

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Herbal remedies include Ginger, Winter Cherry or Country Mallow.  Ginger is an excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.  Winter cherry boosts the immune system and country mallow assists with paralysis by improving blood circulation.  Turmeric is great for improving the immune system.  You can get these in tablets, capsules and powder on amazon.com or a few other sites.  Look at your local apothecary for them.  Ginger can be bought at any grocer.  These are not expensive at all.    You can probably get the country mallow seeds at your local farm stores that will sell flowers, herbs, plants, planters, grass seeds etc.  I priced them on amazon for $2.00, you can get the powder form for $35.56.  The winter cherry capsules I found are organic ashwaganda 400 mg veg capsules from India for $10.29.  Ginger root in powder forms goes for approximately $4.55.  Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine had been proven to effectively improve the condition known as Guillain-Barre.


In Summary, education will be your best weapon against this and many other health conditions.  There isn’t a definitive way to prevent it but you can catch it early and having a fighting chance.  Research that I have done shows that the healthiest and most cost-effective way to treat this is alternatively, especially if you don’t have health insurance.  Allopathic treatments are not a sure thing and carry side effects that would also require prescribed methods of treatments.  For a good patient point of view, check out http://trevorsammut.blogspot.com/.  Allopathic treatments can run you thousands of dollars vs less than a few hundred dollars to do this holistically.  If I had to choose, I would go with holistic even though I have good insurance, I would not have all that time to take off work to be in the hospital and the risks are too high for me.

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2 thoughts on “What Are Guillain-Barre Symptoms?”

  • My husband had GBS a year and a half ago. He had mild stomach flu for a couple days, then he began to be paralyzed from his feet upwards. After another 3 days he was in ICU at a major hospital where he stayed for 2 weeks on all kinds of life support systems. He received immunoglobulin therapy and this plus the ventilator saved his life. GBS is a killer and nothing to mess around with!!! After another 2 weeks of intense physical therapy he came home, and after another month of recuperation he was able to go back to work.
    We do not know what caused it. The doctor suggested maybe contact with a dead animal, and that seemed the most likely answer considering my husband’s job. They had a hard time diagnosing him, but even the possibility of GBS was taken very seriously! Its symptoms are like so many other things that it’s hard, but one thing about GBS is always true. That is, a paralysis which moves from the feet up the legs, through the arms and body to the head. When it reaches the heart and lungs, if you are not on a ventilator, it will kill you. The amazing thing is that it runs its course after about 10 days, and is gone, though it may leave permanent paralysis behind. My husband was blessed and had a wise GP who suspected GBS early on. My heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by this disease! It is very scary and those involved need lots of support.

    • I am sorry that he went through this ordeal but very happy that he survived. GBS is scary and does happen quickly. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

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