Guillain-Barre syndrome affects your nerves. Because nerves control your movements and body functions, people with Guillain-Barre may experience:

  • Breathing difficulties. The weakness or paralysis can spread to the muscles that control your breathing, a potentially fatal complication. Up to 30 percent of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome need temporary help from a machine to breathe when they're hospitalized for treatment.
  • Residual numbness or other sensations. Most people with Guillain-Barre syndrome recover completely or have only minor, residual weakness, numbness or tingling.
  • Heart and blood pressure problems. Blood pressure fluctuations and irregular heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias) are common side effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Pain. Up to half of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome experience severe nerve pain, which may be eased with medication.
  • Bowel and bladder function problems. Sluggish bowel function and urine retention may result from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Blood clots. People who are immobile due to Guillain-Barre syndrome are at risk of developing blood clots. Until you're able to walk independently, taking blood thinners and wearing support stockings may be recommended.
  • Pressure sores. Being immobile also puts you at risk of developing bedsores (pressure sores). Frequent repositioning may help avoid this problem.
  • Relapse. Up to 5 percent of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome experience a relapse.

Severe, early symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome significantly increase the risk of serious long-term complications. Rarely, death may occur from complications such as respiratory distress syndrome and heart attack.

Jun. 03, 2014

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