My Neuropathy Patient Almost Died

Guillain-Barre Syndrome often comes with Autonomic Neuropathy.

One of the rarer acute types of an acute peripheral neuropathy is Guillain-Barre syndrome, sometimes called Landry’s paralysis or Guillain-Barre-Stohl syndrome.
Guillain-Barre turns up most frequently in people who have recently had an infection, like a lung or gastrointestinal sickness. Unfortunately, it can also be a consequence of some immunizations.
Guillian Barre has just been in the news again as a direct complication of the once in the news every day Swine Flu vaccine.
Fortunately, the condition affects only about one or two in every 100,000 patients far fewer than the more common neuropathy types. Most affected by Guillain-Barre syndrome are between age 30 and 50.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is diagnosed through nerve-conduction studies and by studying the cerebrospinal fluid.  History taking is critical! Early medical intervention like plasmapheresis can save the patient years of suffering. But, you the neuropathy treatment professional MUST be alert to its possibility!
Most sufferer’s experience ascending paralysis (loss of strength in the feet and hands that migrates towards their core), along with typical polyneuropathy symptoms such as pain and tingling in their extremities. Typically, the duration of onset is short, and it’s progression rapid. I remember how quickly one of my patient’s condition progressed- a delay in treatment may have killed her! You’ll learn about that story next time!
Perhaps most serious of all, Guillain-Barre syndrome often comes with autonomic neuropathy. These neuropathy patients will then of course then suffer multiple autonomic related issues that will challenge the most seasoned clinicians!
There is still a lot we don’t know about Guillain-Barre syndrome, such as why it attacks some people after an infection and not others, or what actually sets it in motion to attack the nerves. We don’t have a cure for GB yet, either, but there are now treatments available to help manage symptoms and restore quality of life to those suffering from the after effects of the acute illness.
Next time, I’m going to tell you about a very unique post GB neuropathy case, and very fine neuropathy patient I’ve known for 30 years!
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