Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disease affecting the peripheral nerves (Peripheral Nervous System) that is those that lie outside the brain and spinal cord. Even though this disease is quite rare, it causes great concern because the patient often presents some degree of paralysis. It is present in 1-2 people out of every 100,000 people.
Most people who develop the syndrome recover completely. Experts believe that the syndrome is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases arise when the immune system, which usually protects from microorganisms that invade to harm the body, suddenly sees the body’s cells as foreign and starts attacking them. The syndrome can affect humans of any age, but it’s more common in humans as they get older.
The peripheral nerves, that is those that lie outside the brain and spinal cord, transmit messages to the muscles so that they function. When this syndrome arises, the messages are interrupted resulting in the patient not being able to walk, talk or even lift their head.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disease but can be very severe. If the muscles of the chest become infected, then the function of the heart will become affected as well as the patient’s ability to breathe and therefore will need intubation (respiratory support) for some time. This paralysis however is usually temporary.