Whether you are for or against vaccination, everyone can agree that immunizations carry the risk of some types of side effects. These are usually limited to soreness and bruising at the site of the injection. However, there is a risk of more serious side effects, including what is known as post immunization neuropathy.
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves in the outlying parts of the body, such as arms, legs, hands, and feet. This nerve damage results in tingling, pain, numbness, and weakness in affected areas of the body, but it is more common in the legs and feet than in the upper body. Neuropathy has many causes, including:
- disease or illness
Many people believe that vaccinations only carry toxins, but they can also cause infection. Thus, post immunization neuropathy is neuropathy caused by a toxin or infection from vaccination. Post immunization is more commonly seen after influenza vaccinations than other types of immunizations.
One disease that can contribute to neuropathy is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). GBS is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the nerves in your body. This causes damage leading to neuropathy. It is not known exactly what causes GBS, but infection seems to play a large role. Immunizations also seem to contribute to the development of GBS, but it is unknown if it is the vaccination itself or an infection caused by the vaccine. If you develop neuropathy after a vaccination, it is important to be tested for Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome may include:
- trouble chewing or swallowing
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- difficulty breathing
Symptoms generally begin within a few days of an illness or immunization. These symptoms increase over a period of time and are usually at their worst within four weeks after onset of symptoms.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome can be a very serious condition requiring emergency medical care. There is no cure for GBS, however, there are treatment options available. Most who suffer from this syndrome generally recover within a year, though recovery can take up to three years. Approximately thirty percent of those who suffer with Guillain-Barre Syndrome will still have residual weakness, even after three years.
If you develop neuropathy within a month after receiving vaccinations, see your doctor to be tested for GBS. Doctors are able to effectively treat the symptoms of GBS until you are able to recover.