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Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare nerve disorder that occurs when the body's own defenses (immune system) attack part of the peripheral nervous system.
Symptoms usually start with numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes, followed by muscle weakness in the legs, arms, and other muscles that develops over a period of days to weeks and can progress to complete paralysis. Difficulties in breathing and swallowing can also develop. The cause of this disease is not known, but it often occurs after a viral or bacterial infection.
Guillain-Barré is treated with immunotherapy, which boosts the body's immune system and its ability to fight disease. Although GBS can be life-threatening, most people recover with few lasting problems.
Last Revised: October 14, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
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