Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS)

Today our discussion will be about a disease called Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS).

This is a condition happens when our immune system attacks the covering sheath of our peripheral nerves, known as myelin. If peripheral nerves confuse you, simply understand that most of nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord are referred as peripheral.

This disease can happen after an infection, commonly a diarrhea caused by a bacteria called Campylobacter is blamed in this regard. Campylobacter infections are frequently acquired from poultry based food products.

Next, how does this disease present with? Generally patients experience decrease or loss of power of their muscles (can be paralysis). Starting from the legs the weakness ascends up. When it affects the diaphragm (the main muscle that helps us to inhale air) a person may loss the capacity to breath and may approach towards death faster.

Finally, how is this disease treated. If respiratory compromise is suspected the doctor may consider intubation i.e. a procedure to secure the airway and may start artificial respiration if required. The main treatment is done by infusing certain antibodies known as immunoglobulins or by plasmapheresis (in which the plasma or liquid portion of the blood undergoes processing and then replaced back to the patient) .