Approximately one out of every 100,000 individuals will be affected by a condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that involves muscle weakness, fatigue, and respiratory issues. It can even lead to paralysis. Although this disorder is rare, Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disease individuals should be aware of, to further help raise awareness and to offer comfort and support to those battling this illness.
What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare condition characterized by rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system that damages the peripheral nervous system. Early symptoms include changes in pain or sensation along with muscle weakness that begins in the hands and feet but often spreads to the arms and upper body. These symptoms, along with others, can develop within a matter of hours or over a few weeks, and can eventually paralyze the whole body, depending on the type and severity.
At its most severe, this disorder becomes a medical emergency, where patients can only receive treatment in a hospital and often have an extensive recovery period. During its acute phase, Guillain-Barre syndrome can be life-threatening, and approximately fifteen percent of patients develop weakness of the breathing muscles requiring mechanical ventilation. Others may be affected by changes in the function of their autonomic nervous system, which can lead to critical abnormalities in their heart rate and blood pressure.