What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)?
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system mounts an inflammatory response and causes damage to his or her peripheral nerves. This can affect the sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. Symptoms often come on rapidly and can include sensory disturbances in the extremities (hands, arms, feet and legs), muscle weakness and loss of reflexes. In some cases, this muscle weakness can lead to paralysis. In rare circumstances, patients can experience difficulty breathing that leads to respiratory difficulties.
There are several variants of GBS, including acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), the most common GBS variant in the US. Other variants include Miller Fischer Syndrome (MFS), acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), and acute motor sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN).
GBS is similar to Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), which also affects the peripheral nerves, but is distinguished by the gradual onset of symptoms and chronic nature of CIDP.