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Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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Biology 202
2003 First Web Paper
On Serendip

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Amelia Turnbull

Most people do not expect to become paralyzed during the course of their lives. Barring injury to the nervous system or debilitating disease, one does not expect to lose motor function. In spite of these expectations, people of all races, sexes, ages, and classes can be afflicted with a debilitating syndrome that can lead to difficulty in walking or even to temporary paralysis in the most severe cases. This syndrome is known commonly as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS.

GBS is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves. When the syndrome occurs, the body's peripheral nerves become inflamed and cease to work due to an unknown cause. (1) (3) Around 50% of the cases of GBS appear after a bacterial or viral infection. (1) The syndrome can also appear after surgery or vaccination. GBS can appear hours or days after these incidences or can even take up to three or four weeks to appear. (4) Some theories propose that GBS is caused by a mechanism of the autoimmune system that prompts antibodies and white blood cells to attack the covering and insulation of the nerve cells, which leads to abnormal sensation. GBS is considered a syndrome rather than a disease, because its description is based on a set of symptoms reported by the patient to her doctor. (5)

GBS is also known as acute inflammatory demylinating polyneuropathy and Landry's ascending paralysis after Jean B. O. Landry, a French physician who described a disorder that "paralyzed the legs, arms, neck, and breathing muscles of the chest." (4) (1) GBS was named after French physicians Georges Guillain and Jean Alexander Barre who, along with fellow physician Andre Stohl, described the differences of the spinal fluid of those who suffered from the syndrome. (5) The syndrome affects one to two people per 100,000 in the United States, making it the most common cause of rapidly acquired paralysis in this country. (1) Some patients initially diagnosed with GBS are later diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating poly[radiculo]neuropathy, or CIDP. (Sometimes radiculo is left out of the name, hence the brackets.) CIDP was initially known as "chronic GBS," but is now widely considered a related condition. (3)

Although patients can be preliminarily diagnosed with the syndrome based on an analysis of the physical symptoms, two tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis of GBS. The first is a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, in order to obtain a small amount of spinal fluid for analysis. The spinal fluid of those with GBS often contains more protein than usual. The second is an electromyogram (EMG), which is an electrical measure of nerve conduction and muscle activity. (3) (4) The symptoms of GBS begin with numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes leading to weakness in the arms, legs, face, and breathing muscles. The weakness begins in the lower portion of the body and rapidly moves upward. This weakness eventually leads to loss of sensation in the affected areas; although a number of cases are mild, temporary limb paralysis is not uncommon. In the milder cases, the numbness can only cause difficulty in walking, "requiring sticks, crutches, or a walking frame." (3) Pain is not uncommon, and abnormal sensations, such as the feeling of "pins-and-needles," can affect both sides of the body equally. Loss of reflexes, for example the knee jerk, is common. (1) (3) Most patients are at their weakest point about two weeks after the onset of the symptoms, and around 90% will have reached their weakest state three weeks after the onset of symptoms. (4)

The progression of the syndrome is unpredictable, especially in the early stages, and patients may preemptively put in the hospital to be cared for. (1) In the more severe cases, patients require hospitalization and a stay in the intensive care unit in the early stages of their disease, especially if they need the assistance of a respirator, or ventilator, to breathe. In about a quarter of the cases of GBS, the paralysis moves up to the patient's chest, requiring this assistance from a respirator. The face and throat may also be affected by the paralysis, necessitating a feeding tube through the nose or directly into the stomach. (3) The period that the patient is afflicted with the syndrome can be extremely long and long-term hospital stays are not uncommon. Care is generally confined to supportive measures to the patient as the condition improves spontaneously, and efforts are made to speed recovery of nerve function, including physical therapy and hydrotherapy. Most patients eventually recover and go on to lead normal, or very near normal lives. Some patients, however, may remain partially paralyzed and require the use of a wheelchair for a long period of time. (1) (3) Around 30% of GBS patients still feel residual weakness three years after the onset of symptoms. (4) Death due to GBS is highly unlikely with modern medical practices, but death does occur in about 5% of the cases. (3) For those with CIDP, the course of the disease is generally longer than those with GBS and the recovery period can follow a recovery/relapse cycle, but the patients are less likely to suffer respiratory failure. (3)

The syndrome came to brief public attention in 1976 when a number of people vaccinated against Swine Flu were stricken with the syndrome. (1) A Minnesota doctor had reported to his local health board that after inoculating a man for Swine Flu, the man had developed GBS. The health board reported this the Center for Disease Control, who were running the Swine Flu vaccination program, and the CDC began to ask doctors to report cases of newly diagnosed GBS. It did not take long for doctors to begin to associate GBS with the vaccine, even though the CDC tried not to relay this impression. As GBS is difficult to diagnose and has many symptoms similar to other neurological diseases, doctors at the time might have been more likely to diagnose patients who came in with muscle weakness who did receive the vaccine with GBS more often than those patients who presented muscle weakness and did not receive the vaccine. As the CDC could not say with certainty that the flu vaccine was not causing the high number of cases of GBS, the CDC announced cessation of the vaccination program on December 16, 1976. To this day, some people avoid flu vaccines because of this one incidence of extreme side affects. (2)

In the end, a person with GBS may eventually fully recover her motor function to the level it was before her affliction with the syndrome. While she may be left with no physical reminders of the disorder, she and her family and friends will always remember her sudden incapacitation. The emotional scars from such an incident can last a lifetime.



1) Guillain-Barre Syndrome International - GBS: An Overview, An overview of GBS on the website of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Foundation International, based in Wynnewood, PA.

2) Kolata, Gina. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It. Simon & Schuster: New York. Pgs. 167-185.

3) Guillain-Barré Support Group, The homepage for the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Support Group based in the United Kingdom. The organization disseminates information to sufferers of the syndrome and their family and friends.

4) NINDS Guillain-Barre Information Page, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke information page on GBS.

5) GBS - An Overview For The Layperson, An overview of GBS written by Dr. Joel S. Steinberg, a neurologist that once suffered from GBS.



Comments made prior to 2007

Hello I was reading the comments on GBS. In 1975, August I came down with GBS and with in two days of the onset I was in a coma. It only lasted for two days and the nightmare began, I spent 6 moths in intensive care and two years in rehab. I lost all functions, breathing, talking, closing my eyes, you name it I lost it. I was told to be grateful I had such a strong heart. I was told several times I was going to die. I went from 120 pounds to a mere 48, looked like bones drapped in a sheet. To this day I am doing so much better. I have had 5 surgeries on my feet, they hurt all the time. I can't straighten my legs out while sitting on the floor, I can't put my hands out flat and apply preasure, I can shut one eye and not move the other, it looks much like an owl. I have muscle cramps often. My doctors say my body goes in cycle, I'm good for a few years and poof I need surgery. I have no spare parts. I'm so greatful for what I have. God truly kept his hand on me. I was in St John's hospital in Springfield Illinois 1975-1976. They took such wonderful care of me, I was 21 when it hit. I had not been ill. It came in my feet and I kept falling by the next day it was all the way in my hands, and that evening I went into the coma. It took awhile for the diagnosis, the first doctor I had thought I was faking and never bothered with feeding tubes. Long story short I am good but left with residual effects, 40% feeling in my feet and 50% in my lower legs. I can't remember a day since that my feet have not hurt. I am a teacher,a high school science teacher, and I am so grateful to God for this opportunity ... Barbara Saathoff, 7 November 2007


Serendip VisitorSandra's picture

My sister Marie

My sister went to Mexico in 1976 and came home with an intestinal virus.Two weeks later she started to fall when going to work.she went to an Internist and was diagnosed and admitted to hospital with GBS.Within five days she almost completely paralyzed.She was not put on a respirator.Dr said she was nervous and blood gases were normal.We later found out that blood gases will show normal as patient will hypoventile and this test was obviously wrong as she died 5 days after GBS.Doctors jumped on her chest and brought her back to life.My sister suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen due to neglect of Dr attributed tGbs.she is still alive in a vegatative state.Her body is contorted her eyes opened but no response.She has been this way since 1976 at the age of 31.she is now sister was my only sibling.It would of been better if she passed,since this has been a cross to bear for my parents who visited her everyday and as far as my sister,there is no response of any kind from poor sister has suffered a nightmare existence from GBS.

Sambhav Jain's picture

nee to know the right treatment for paralysis of legs after gbs

my sister couldn't walk on her own legs independently from past 18 years when gbs affected her in 1994,she is able to move with help of support like wall,chair,stick but not normally ,she has been taking physiotherpy seesions for last 14 years without any improvement,she is 29 year old unmarried at present,need help from you guys about advice on treatment for paralysis of legs,she has improved from on bed to walker to stick but not became normal at all.Pls advice anything for her recovery.

Jessie's picture

My 7 year old daughter has GBS

Hi I'm Jessica and I'm a mother of 4 children. Twin girls Mykenzie and Alexis who will be 8 in aug, A 5 year old little boy named Landen and a 4 year old little girl named Emma.About a month ago my daughter Alexis began falling for no reason and when i would ask her what happened she would say I dunno I just fell. Me and my husband just figured she had pulled a muscle or something while playing outside.I got married on June 25th 2011 and on June 27th my mother in law took Alexis to the dr because she was still having problems walking I get a call from my mother in law saying that they were sending Alexis to Kosair by ambulance because there was not anything they could do for her. By the time I got to the hospital they had admitted her and told us they thought she had GBS, by the next morning my daughter had no reflexes in her legs or arms.We spent a week in the icu and then the discharged her, We go to physical therapy 2 days a week, she is on a walker and will not be able to attend school this year because of it.Every day task are a struggle for my daughter she cannot dress herself she cant not go to the restroom by herself, she cannot get in and out of her bed by herself.It breaks my heart to watch my baby struggle to do little things that we all take for granted!! The only difference between her story and the other stories I've read is My daughter never got sick before getting this. She never ran a fever, had a cough,tooth ache nothing she went from being a "normal" 7 year old riding her bike and playing basketball with her friends to she cant take 2 steps without falling.My question is Will this go away or will she have to struggle for the rest of her life?I wish there was more Info given out on this.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I came across this site yesterday 20th Oct 2014 and am hoping your little girl is a whole lot better. I have been reading a lot about gluten/dairy intolerance in relation to pulling down the immune system and also the effects (inflammation) it can have on the nervous system (and parts of). Have you had a chance to consider this? All the very best, Sal

Jessie's picture


Hi my name is Jessie and my son was diagnosed with GBS after his 12 month vaccination. Within 10 days we were in the ICU. All he could move were his eyes. After receiving the IVIG treatments we saw improvement. Don't loose hope. It took my son 4 months to set up on his own and 5 months to walk again along with 7 months of being on simply quick thickener for ALL his liquids. Please know that it does get better and give her time. Try and stay strong. We had pt everyday for 2 months then 3 days a week for 6 months.

Serendip Visitor's picture


My husband passed away with this syndrome 4years-ago. Thanks

mccraneyangels's picture

reply to jessie guest Alexis's Mom

How is Alexis ? I read your story and felt I had to check in on her.
I am a 55yr old grandma who was involved in a car accident in '06 . The Doctors at Stanford Hospital said I would never walk again .I worked so hard and made it around with a walker . In July of 2011 I was at the pool with my 5 grandkids and my feet started feeling numb . By August 5th I was paralyzed from head to toes. It's a long road ahead of me .
I have heard so many stories about people with GB , some right as rain within months , others struggling to walk many years later .
So work with Alexis often, water exercises feel the best to me.

Serendip Visitor's picture


My name is Cathy! First I like to say my heart really goes out to you and your handband and your daughter. That all of you have to deal with such a nightmare. She developing GBS puts mental and emotial stress of family members as well as the patients. I am 53 y/o and was diagnos with GBS in 2008. To make a long story short. I am now walking and doing fairly good. I do have some physical reminders which may still go away. Howevery for the most part it will get better and go away. The good thing is with her being young she will probably fully recover. So the answer to your question it does go away. May God bless you and I will keep all of you in my prayers. You can email me anytjime if you have any questions.

Laura Hogan's picture

recovering from GBS

I have no medical background of any kind, but I would like to share the anecdotal information I have with you. My sister contracted GBS in 1976 when she was nine years old. She had all the problems you have described. At her worst she was completely paralized and spent nearly a year living in a children's hospital. Eventually she came home in a wheel chair, then walking crutches, and eventually she made a complete recovery. Recently I found out a friend of mine had GBS as an adult. He recovered in about a year and a half. Again a full recovery. I'm not a medical professional, and I don't know the details of your case, but I've known two people in my life who have faced this condition and both went from paralysis to a full recovery in one to two years. This is a tough condition, but complete recovery is possible. I'm a mother, and I think just knowing there are people out there walking around fully recovered would help me. I don't think you are looking for guaranties, just a little hope.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Hi diagnosed with GBS 11/2011

We do look for hope, all of us with GBS
I came down with it in Nov 2011 after surgery . While I was in the
Hospital my feet went numb by the rite I was released and at home
my legs and hands were numb. After several falls I
was taken to the ER and admitted and diagnosed by
a spinal tap. I spent another month in th hospital
3 months in rehab before trying to go home. I went home
with a wheelchair and a walker. I was using a walker to get
around very slow on feet and legs I cant feel. It's a little like
walking on stilts. One week home and I fell and tore up my ankle
and spent another week in the Hosp and now I'm back
In rehab. This is the most painful syndrome and one of
The loneliest because so few people even know about it much
Less understand the pains we try so hard to describe. I have now
started to develop horrible cramps in my toes feet and legs
and nothing helps, not even muscle relaxers or pain
It always helps to read when others have gone theough
GBS with similar pains and now have recovered completely or
even partially!!

Serendip Visitor's picture

Death from GBS

Thanks for the info. My husband was one of the 5% that died in 59 days as a result of GBS. When I posted this for help in June 2009 I thought for sure he would recover. After being taken care of at a very good hospital and able to move his head in less than 3 weeks after onset he was forceably transferred to a hospital in the HMO's network and died 30 days thereafter. Because GBS is so complicated the Lawyer could not prove neglegence from the 2nd hospital even thought his bed sores emmitted infections into his body and deteriorated to the bone. When he died they were preping him for surgery to remove the infected tissue. His organs had already shut down.

Julie Stites's picture

Guillain Barre

I was only 3 1/2 years old when I was diagnosed with GBS. It was the Spring of 1977, my dad raced off road and we had been in Baja Mexico. I had gotten a virus and when we returned to Southern California my mom made the appointment for the Doctor. The morning of the appointment I remember being told, with my older sister by my side, to turn the television off so we could go in the car and as we walked down the hallway together there were 2 steps into the living room that I fell down. I stood up only to fall again. My sister turned the television off and ran to tell my mom that something wasn't right with her little sister. I was very young, so I don't remember very many details. My mom tells me that I couldn't walk at all by the time we arrived at the Doctor's office and we were sent to the hospital. At the hospital a Spinal tap reveled the GBS. I remember being in the hospital & all the blood draws...I hated needles and the nurses bribed me with frozen ice pops. I was paralyzed, my face began to hang and speech slurred, it was scary being away from home and not understanding what was happening. My parents didn't have medical insurance, my dad was self employed as a General Contractor and the Hospital sent me home after a week and they felt I wasn't in respiratory distress. They gave my mom some physical therapy instructions and told her there were no guarantees on what my recovery would be. I don't have the exact information but I know it was months of living on a cot that was kept in my parents room by night and moved to the living room for the day. I had terrible migraines and could barely have a pillow under my head in the early months. My mom says she worked with me daily moving my legs & feet trying to keep the muscles moving... I don't remember this. Her dedication and hard work paid off and I did regain the ability to walk again. So in medical terms I apparently had a full recovery. In my early years in school it was common to have my ankles give out on me many times and my legs would buckle under me. I never even knew that there was a possibility of any lasting effecting of GBS until recently. I'm 36, a mother to 4 children ages 14, 8, 6 1/2, & 4. The last couple of years have been very challenging for me. I have struggled with feeling tired since my 2nd pregnancy, I had some complications and anytime you bring a newborn into this world a mommy is bound to be tired :). Baby #3 came very quickly, so being tired seemed natural...and surprise, when baby #4 came, well you can only imagine. It was when my youngest was almost 2 that I realized the tired was something very different. I was suffering from extreme fatigue & muscle weakness. The muscle weakness was so severe that I couldn't stir wet dog food with the dry or my arm would give out trying to cook scrambled eggs. A few years prior I was able to hold my daughter as a toddler but now I wasn't able to hold my youngest son for more than a few minutes that I'd have to hand him off & my arms would be shaking with fatigue. Blow drying my hair for less than 10 minutes & again my arms are shaking. The fatigue would have me laying on the couch barely able to keep my eyes open, many times mid morning but definitely by 1pm. My calf muscles feel like they are on the verge of charlie horse cramps much of the time and frequently cramp up. I've also had my quad muscle cramp up too. I've been suffering from and was officially diagnosed with migraines in 2008. In March of 2010, I was diagnosed as having fibromyalgia, having failed miserably the touch point test having 16 of the 18 touch points...although, I do have a theory that it has something to do with my endocrine system not functioning properly. A Pituitary MRI 6/2010 shows a small pituitary tumor possibly causing havoc on some hormones. My ACTH and cortisol both tend to run low, as well as my aldosterone and renin. I have other symptoms like very dry/cracked hands & feet, body temp drops, sore joints, ovarian cysts, acid reflux/gerd, vision blurs. I guess my question is what is the long lasting effect of GBS on the individuals body? I've read that it can cause damage to the hypothalamus and pituitary, muscle cramping, migraines, fatigue and muscle weakness. It seems the doctors I see just don't know anything about GBS and look at me like I'm crazy. All I know is that I'm 36 and I should feel better. There's post polio syndrome, so who's to say there's not a post Guillain Barre Syndrome? I know for the individual that was in their 30's, 30 years later it might seem appropriate for them to have some muscle weakness or fatigue; but I was young when I had GBS, so 30 years later I'm trying to raise a family and weakness and fatigue is getting in the way, it's very obvious! I'm tired of the "oh, well you do have 4 kids..." I'm comparing to just a few years ago, I've been tired, this is different it's debilitating.

Serendip Visitor's picture

LPR/GERD diagnosis

I was 21 and pregnant with my first son when I suffered GBS and had little to no residual symptoms that I could ever swear were from the GBS. However, I am 39 now, and three kids and 3 5K races later, I am starting to reconsider what is actually residual and what's "normal". I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as a young adult(not sure if this was after GBS or before honestly), deal with fatigue, major reflux issues, major muscle cramping issues, and really can't even carry my purse for 30 minutes to walk around the mall. I have to take breaks often, where most people do not. I toss and turn in my sleep and can never really get good rest. Now, I am dealing with major muscle cramping in my throat as well as a ton of other strange symptoms. This is supposedly caused by Laryngopharyngeal Reflux(LPR - like GERD but worse because it comes up further into the back of your throat) and it is due to the flaps that close off your esophagus not working properly. I had trouble with my throat muscles and swallowing/choking while I was dealing with the GBS and never really thought about it being possibly related but after reading that you also deal with GERD, I am questioning why this is happening. Seems like there is residual weakness in those muscles that are required for keeping food down. I don't vomit or all just comes back up to my throat and it feels like super bad heartburn as well as "vurping"(vomit/burp...gross, sorry) and belching a lot more than is normal. I feel like I should mention this to my doc and see what he thinks. It's been 18 years...but I've had horrible heartburn, muscle cramps, and major fatigue for that long. Now I'm having what I think are cricopharyngeal spasms that feel like someone has their hands wrapped around my throat for long periods of time. The heartburn and acid have just always been there and is worse at times. I wonder if those muscles have residual weakness/dysfunction and we just never really checked that because I can eat just fine....yet I choke on my own spit a lot. It's all because of that muscle. I also have tons of other muscle spasms in odd places. I've researched something called Isaac's Syndrome as well. I'm curious. I'm also annoyingly hyper-vigilant about doing my own research because of the hell I went through just to get a diagnosis, which took over a month simply because I was pregnant and the doctors wouldn't listen. It was assumed that I was over-reacting to a first time pregnancy and that the baby was sitting on my sciatic nerve. I finally just went back to my GP after several useless visits to the emergency room and specialists and OBGYN docs who did nothing. Thankfully, she listened and got me to a neurologist...which took 2 weeks. Luckily, mine was relatively slow progressing because I literally could have died, waiting just to get in to the neurologists office!

Maureen's picture

GBS nine years later

MY question is yours exactly. In July 2004 I was diagnosed with GBS following a bout with shingles. ICU, on a ventilator, rehab at Burke Institute for a monthe followed by 2.5 years of PT. I was doing well except for my back and 2012 was my best year. Lately, I have numbness, stiffness, fatigue, muscle cramping and vibrations throughout my body. Now I can't sleep. My right foot is almost dead and some relief comes from wearing compression socks. My PCP pays good attention, but the neuro people say I am completely recovered. I think not and that for some people there is never a complete recovery. My fear is not knowing where this will go. As it is, I can deal with it but it seems to be vaguely worse each day. I was on Lyrica for awhile and blew up to 191 lbs. If someone would say, Maureen, this is your life now and GBS can be a forever thing, it would relieve my mind. Maybe, just one Doctor would admit not knowing. Someday I will figure out why I am ashamed or reluctant to complain. But it isn't complaining, it's abject fear.
I wish you well and cry when I read each persons story. God bless you and help you. How are you now?

Stephanie Ann Ann Mag-iba's picture


may i know what is the real complete name of the person who experienced GBS which you are pertaining to.. i badly need it , 'cause we do have our requirements regarding the case of GBS .. thank you for your time ! :) i'm hoping for yout immediately response ..

Anonymous's picture

GBS Death

On June 1st my niece and I were attacked with a virus, on June 8 my husband was attacked with the same virus unknown by name. On June 15, 2009, my husband's hands began to tingle with pain. I took him to his HMO urgent care at 3AM on June 16th only to be told to see his regular doctor. June 16th at 1PM it moved to his feet and legs so I took him to my emergency hospital that I use for my medical and test were run which came out negative. The doctor said that he may have GBS but sent us home at 4:30PM. In less than 2 hours, my husband could not walk. After calling 911, getting him into my truck and back to the emergency hospital, he was diagnosed with GBS. By June 18 at 3am he had to be incubated on the respirator. GBS went all the way to his brain. The hemoglobin treatments did not work but the Plasamapheresis treatments did. His HMO transferred him 25 days later to another hospital that was a long term care facility, due to no contract with the hospital he was currently in. He got pneumonia while in ICU and the hospital that he was transferred to only gave him antibiotic treatments and refused to continue the plasmapheresis even though it was recommended and promised to be continued as a requirement. The primary doctor has never seen my husband or contacted myself regarding his treatments. Because my husband could not move, he was supposed to be turned every 2 hours. In the first hospital I had to always request a turning. When he was transferred, they found a serious bed sore on his lower back. The new facility did even worse and the bed sore got infected causing high fevers along with the pneumonia that also got worse. On July 24th he was moved to a regular room still on the breathing tube because the primary doctors P.A. thought he was stable enough. What really happened is that ICU needed the room. His bed sore got so bad that surgery was planned to remove the dead tissue. August 3rd 10 days later his kidneys began to slow their function. August 6th he was rushed back into ICU because his kidneys and other organs began to fail and on August 11th he died. I thought it was unlikely that one could die from this syndrome. I lost the love of my life in less that 58 days. From health to death. I was with him every day night and day he was only 62 years of age.
If anyone can offer advice based upon your experiences It would be welcomed. I believe that he was not treated correctly and there was maliciousness done. I have requested all of his records from both hospitals. I need a name of a good lawyer and a doctor who understands this syndrome who can review what treatments were done and what decisions should have been made by the doctors. I feel that my husband and I were cheated out of a long life together. We were friends for 25 years of which 5 were marriage. I reside in Southern California. Thanks

Jaime A's picture


I just found this website regarding GBS. I just lost my father to GBS after he was unable to walk and hospitalized for 8 days and then sent to a rehab facility (really a nursing home) for less than two days. I was wondering whether you ever found a good law firm because I believe the treatment received by my father was less than stellar. Thanks for your input.

Debbie 's picture

still scared

I am so relieved to have found this site. It is 4:00a.m. and I have been frantically searching for information on the recurrence of GBS. I was diagnosed with GBS 5 years ago. After 6 months of treatment I was cured, or so I thought. Lately, I have been experiencing pain in my legs and feet, but I have also been extremely active. I am 53 years old with a 15 year old son and have been trying to keep up; I chalked it up as being "sore", out of shape and just plain old aging. However, after a period of rest and conditioning the aches and pains do not get any better. I can not remember when I last slept for more than 3 hours at a time nor when I don't have achy legs and burning feet. Activities such as working absolutely leaves me exhausted, but a restful sleep refuses to follow.

I am uncertain if there is anything that I can do to relieve these symptoms, but would be grateful for any suggestions. I truly do not want to start the doctor cycle and am praying someone else has an answer.

Thanking anyone who may be able to assist me on my quest.

Menno's picture

Have you considered CIDP as

Have you considered CIDP as being a possible cause? Reading this article, it should be more of a re-occurring sidekick of GBS, beit that it usually manifests itself less prominently than GBS.
You might want to see your doctor regardless of your reluctance, especially with your history. He might have a solution?

FYI, I suffered GBS aswell (early 2008), though I was very lucky. Within 7 weeks I was off Intensive Care, and within four months I learned to breathe, walk, talk, eat and blink all over again. Now I just have a few left over complaints with my feet. The soles are funny, hardly feel a thing, until I step on something bare footed. Suddenly my feet will explode in agony. Weird.

Cleghorn's picture

My Son had Guillain Barre Syndrome

Four years ago (2005) my son had GBS. He was 16 years old at the time. We had all fallen ill with a gastrointestinal viral infection. Following a week or so later my son complained of weakness in his legs and said he couldn't focus well when driving his car. One night he had been out to dinner with a friend and couldn't get up the back steps to get in the house. I took him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with Mono. The ER Dr told him that it was typical to be weak with mono. I brought him home and kept him downstairs on the couch to sleep that evening. The next morning I came out to see him sitting on the couch as he said "Mom I can't walk or even feel my feet". I rushed him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with GBS. He was transferred from a local hospital to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. By evening that same day he became paralysed to his waist. Over the next few days GBS worked its way up his body. He coudn't swallow, his face appeared as if he had a stroke, he couldn't see, or feel his arms, legs, or torso. Just as it had reached his lungs and breathing became more difficult, GBS finally peaked and began to reverse. After months of in patient and outpatient therapy, my son still suffers the residual effects of this disease. When he gets anything from a cold with the sniffles, to a viral infection he feels weak and his legs get tingly. I am writing today becasue yesterday we spent 4 hours in the ER where he was observed because he had the same sensation that he had when GBS hit him 4 years ago. Fatigue yes, fear yes, horrifying memories are there even though at 20 years old he tries to hide them. It is hard for people to understand, including health care workers; that the residual effects are realeven if you cannot see them. He had a CAT scan, x-ray, blood tests, cultures etc yesterday at the ER which all came back normal. I hope research will someday find a vaccine for GBS and find a cause for the residual effects and get it stopped. GBS may be a rare disorder but it seems to me that more and more people are getting it and we need to find a causeand then a vaccine to get it stopped. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps in a small way to anyone who has suffered GBS. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Karen's picture


So sorry about your son. Please read the vaccine inserts, GBS is listed as an adverse reaction. Look up every ingredient in the vaccines and the adverse reactions. Prayers to your family.

Serendip Visitor's picture


So sorry about your son. Please read the vaccine inserts, GBS is listed as an adverse reaction. Look up every ingredient in the vaccines and the adverse reactions. Prayers to your family.