What are the Most Common Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Some of the most common initial symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome include fever, headaches, and tingling in the extremities. Tingling in the hands and feet will often spread up the limbs, and the patient may feel weak and unstable. This is sometimes followed by paralysis of the limbs; the condition can also affect muscles of the respiratory system. Most symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome resolve within six months, although some patients may experience lasting disability.

The initial symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome often include vomiting and headaches. These symptoms may be accompanied by a fever and pain in limbs. The condition can be serious and is often the result of an infection. It is thought, however, that certain people may be genetically disposed to the syndrome. There is currently no way of testing whether a person is more likely to suffer from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome usually occur quickly, in some cases over the course of a few days, and often start in the extremities. After the initial period, a person may begin to feel numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. The feelings will then spread through the limbs of the body and can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. A person with the condition may feel unstable during the early stages.


After the initial period, symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome vary. Patients might find that the condition doesn’t get any worse than muscle weakness. In others, the syndrome may progress to temporary paralysis. This can occur in the face, legs, and arms, and might even affect the muscles required for breathing. During this stage of the condition, the patient may require assistance walking or might not be able to walk at all.

As the symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome can affect the muscles needed for breathing, the condition can be life threatening. If these muscles become paralyzed, the patient will need to be put on a ventilation machine. For this reason, any person who is suffering from the syndrome must be closely monitored in case the symptoms get worse.

The symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome are typically resolved within a few months, although it may take up to half a year. Some people may have lasting problems and permanent disabilities. It is often important for a patient suffering from the condition to undergo a period of physiotherapy. Chronic Guillain-Barre syndrome, where the symptoms last for more than six months, can afflict some people.


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