Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder that causes your immune system to attack your peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS nerves connect your brain and spinal cord with the rest of your body. Damage to these nerves makes it hard for them to transmit signals. As a result, your muscles have trouble responding to your brain. No one knows what causes the syndrome. Sometimes it is triggered by an infection, surgery, or a vaccination.
The first symptom is usually weakness or a tingling feeling in your legs. The feeling can spread to your upper body. In severe cases, you become almost paralyzed. This is life-threatening. You might need a respirator to breathe. Symptoms usually worsen over a period of weeks and then stabilize.
Guillain-Barre can be hard to diagnose. Possible tests include nerve tests and a spinal tap. Most people recover. Recovery can take a few weeks to a few years. Treatment can help symptoms, and may include medicines or a procedure called plasma exchange.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and Flu Vaccine (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Menactra Meningococcal Vaccine FAQs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Zika and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in Spanish
- Miller Fisher Syndrome (GBS/CIDP Foundation International) - PDF
- Miller Fisher Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Guillain-Barré syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Guillain-Barre Syndrome (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: HLA-A, HSPA5, IGFBP5 and PSMA2 Are Restriction Factors for Zika Virus...
- Article: Anti-LGI4 Antibody Is a Novel Juxtaparanodal Autoantibody for Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating...
- Article: Human parvovirus B19 infection in hospitalized patients suspected of infection with...
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Caring for a Child with Guillain-Barré Syndrome or CIDP (GBS/CIDP Foundation International) - PDF