What Are the Symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome?


Quick Answer

Symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome include leg weakness that spreads to the upper body and prickling sensations in the wrists, fingers, toes or ankles, explains Mayo Clinic. Other indicators are an unsteady walk, bladder-control issues, trouble breathing and difficulty with movements involving the facial muscles, such as chewing or speaking.

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In many cases, the first indication of Guillain-Barre syndrome is weakness and tingling in the feet and legs that subsequently spreads to the upper portion of the body, including the arms, according to Mayo Clinic. The first symptoms affect the face or arms in approximately 10 percent of cases. People with the condition may also experience a rapid pulse, trouble swallowing, bowel complications, or severe aches and cramps that may worsen at night. They may have either high or low blood pressure, and they may experience a complete inability to walk or go up and down stairs. Eventually, the muscle weakness associated with Guillan-Barre syndrome can progress into paralysis.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is not a single disease but, rather, an umbrella term that describes several diagnoses, notes Mayo Clinic. Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy, or AIDP, is the most prevalent type in the United States. Patients with AIDP typically experience weakness that spreads from their lower to upper bodies. Miller Fisher syndrome, a form of Guillain-Barre syndrome that is especially prevalent in Asia, involves paralysis beginning in the eyes and an unsteady gait.

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