What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome and How is it Treated?

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Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare disorder that impacts the immune system which could have serious complications for patients.  It is a side effect from a vaccination. Although the disease is incurable, it can be treated. However, in other rare cases, the disease can be fatal or it can even result in paralysis.  The disease can impact anyone. Here is some more information that you need to know about Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  

What is GBS?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a peripheral nervous condition that affects about one in every 100,000 Americans.  Essentially what happens with GBS is that the body turns on itself and the immune system attacks the central nervous system.  This results in muscle weakness, loss of the use of extremities, and sometimes even worse complications.

What causes GBS?

GBS generally will result in the wake of some type of infection. When the body will try to fight off the infection, sometimes it will focus its efforts on the wrong part of the body.  While an infection is believed to be the predicate for the disease, the exact cause of GBS in unknown. In some cases, GBS can result from a vaccination. While the exact reason for the connection between GBS and vaccinations is unknown, vaccinations do introduce a form of an infection into the body which can spur the process.

What are the symptoms of GBS?

The onset of GBS comes with a combination of tingling, numbness or pain. Ultimately, this progresses to weakness in the lower extremities and patients have difficulty walking. In some cases, the weakness is progressive, while in other cases, the onset is quick. 

In most cases of GBS, the legs are only one thing that is affected among several other symptoms. Patients may experience respiratory illnesses or difficulty swallowing. It is these cases that have the chance of becoming fatal. When a patient has difficulty breathing as a result of GBS, emergency treatment is needed to save the patient’s life.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to recovery from GBS. When a case of the disease lingers for several weeks, chances of a full recovery are diminished. However, it is not always easy to diagnose GBS quickly because the condition is so rare. Oftentimes, numerous tests are required to reach the conclusion that the patient has GBS. In other cases, full onset of the symptoms takes several weeks and without the full litany of side effects, it is difficult to know that one has GBS.

Types of GBS

What makes GBS even more difficult to diagnose is that, within the overall GBS category, there are several different variants of the disease. These types of GBS affect different parts of the body. For example, one type of GBS is known as Miller-Fisher Syndrome, and it primarily impacts the eye muscles. Another variant of the disease affects the throat muscles and can be particularly dangerous since it impacts breathing and swallowing.

Treatment of GBS

Those who are suffering from GBS will often require hospitalization for intensive treatment of the disease. Most interventions are aimed at repairing the body’s blood, which is what is doing the damage to the nervous system. The most common form of treatment for GBS is intravenous infusions. This procedure relies on donated blood to help build new antibodies in the blood. This is necessary because the body’s own antibodies are damaged and are attacking the central nervous system. This course of treatment will last for about five days which, in most cases, should be long enough for new antibodies to generate. Other treatments include plasma exchange to take out the harmful antibodies. 

Patients with GBS will also need to have the side effects of the disease addressed in the short-term. This includes possible treatment with a ventilator if there is trouble breathing and a feeding tube if the patient is having difficulty swallowing. The key is to address the acute symptoms to allow the patient’s bloodstream the time that is necessary to build the antibodies that are necessary to stabilize the patient.

Costs of GBS

If you have suffered from GBS, you know that the costs of the disease are considerable. You have likely faced high medical expenses due to the complicated procedures that are necessary to treat the disease. In addition, most people with GBS will miss considerable time from work. In some more severe cases, the patient will not be able to return to work due to lasting damage from the disease. In the event that the case of GBS resulted from a vaccination, the patient will have significant costs to recoup through the compensation to which they are entitled. A vaccine injury attorney can advise you as to the process whereby you would receive compensation.

Americans who have had GBS

Many famous Americans have either been diagnosed with GBS or have had symptoms consistent with the disease.  For example, William “Refrigerator” Perry, a defensive lineman on the 1985 Chicago Bears team was diagnosed with the disease back in 2008.  In Perry’s case, the disease was precipitated by an infection in his mouth that came from getting teeth pulled and was made worse by alcohol usage.  He was hospitalized with the illness in serious condition and was reported to be near-death when he was first admitted to the facility. Even more than ten years after the disease first struck, “The Fridge” still has difficulty walking as a result of the damage caused by GBS.

Another former NFL player, quarterback Danny Wuerffel, was also diagnosed with GBS in 2011. In Wuerffel’s case, the disease was preceded by a bout with the stomach virus. Wuerffel began to notice a loss of sensation and strength in his legs which turned out to be GBS.  The former University of Florida star received intensive treatment for the condition and was able to fully recover. Others with GBS are not so fortunate and continue to feel lifelong effects. 

If you have contracted GBS after vaccination, you should immediately contact The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates to discuss your case.

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