Guillain-Barre Syndrome: What is it and why should you care?


One of the more common side effects of vaccines for which patients can make a claim from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is Guillen-Barre Syndrome (GBS). While this disease is rare, it does have some pronounced complications that can impact the lives of patients who develop the disease. Not much is known about this condition, but those who receive flu vaccinations should take some time to familiarize themselves with the disease prior to getting a vaccination.

Guillen-Barre System is a rare condition that attacks the nervous system. While the body normally relies on its own immune system in order to fight off disease and sickness, GBS causes the body to fight its own nervous system. Specifically, the body attacks a certain part of its nervous system which is located outside of both the brain and spinal cord. In some instances, a bacterial infection or the introduction of some other foreign substance into the body can precede a case of GBS. This infection can go to work on the nerves, changing their substance and composition. Sometimes, the immune system will send out a signal to attack a certain infection and that signal will hit the nervous system instead.

GBS will cause side effects that range from muscle weakness to paralysis. Some cases of GBS are relatively minor and the weakness only lasts temporarily. This can be as mild as tingling which goes away after a little bit of time. GBS could just result in a minor sensation change that quickly goes away as the condition passes. However, even if the symptoms seem minor, it is critical to seek medical care as soon as possible.

However, there is a more severe form of GBS that can cause significant problems for patients. Some cases of GBS rapidly worsen after their onset. Momentary weakness can progress to severe muscle issues as the nervous system degenerates in response to the disease. An attack on the nervous system can be akin to the body’s system “shorting out” and the limbs and extremities lose the direction that controls them. When the nervous system experiences severe damages, it may not be able to fully recover, leading to some degree of paralysis.

There are some other severe side effects that are associated with GBS. Given how many routine functions are guided by the nervous system, GBS can permanently alter the body. For example, some patients who have GBS report difficulty swallowing and chewing. Other report difficulty with eye muscles and seeing. Patients can lose control over their extremities and functions which can include loss of control over the bladder.

The good news is that most patients who develop GBS can eventually make a full recovery if they get the disease treated early and receive extensive medical care and therapy. There are two acute care treatments that are available to reverse the impacts of GBS. These both involve some sort of transfusion or immunotherapy. Provided that these are administered early, there is a high chance of recovery for the patient. This is then followed by a long period of rehabilitation in which the patient rebuilds strength in their muscles. If the case of GBS is anything more than very minor, it is likely that there will be costs for the patient, both economic and medical.
The reason why this is significant is because, as mentioned above, GBS can result from a flu vaccination. While the percentage of patients who develop GBS after a vaccination is extremely small, it is a known risk. The flu in general can cause GBS since it is an infection that is present in the body. During flu vaccination, the infection is introduced into the body in order to build immunity against it. While the increase in risk after getting the vaccine is very slight, it will have significant consequences for the one or two in a million who have this side effect. There are only 3,000-6,000 cases of GBS in the country each year, and only part of them are tied to a flu vaccine injection.

Since the composition of the flu vaccine varies from year to year, the statistics regarding GBS and the flu shot can change every season. Thus, it is impossible to predict or quantify the chances of developing GBS after a flu shot. In addition, it is difficult to anticipate whether the GBS cases resulting from flu shots will be mild to severe. In some flu seasons, the GBS cases have the potential to be fatal. For example, in 1976, roughly 30 people died from GBS after receiving flu vaccines. However, that is the most severe year on record and some cases of the disease can be mild. The main takeaway for anyone who is getting a flu shot is that GBS is very rare, but potentially very severe.

The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates handles may cases that pertain to GBS vaccine injuries. They are knowledgable and adept at navigating the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If you or a loved one suffered from GBS after receiving a vaccine, contact the firm today for a free consultation.


You Only Have Three Years To File Your Claim

The first step in helping yourself or a loved one after a serious vaccine related injury is to contact us for a free review of your case.

Recent Posts