10 Common Symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome


Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a condition where your immune system attacks your nerves. It is caused by an acute bacterial or viral infection.

The initial symptom is weak and tingling feet and legs, that then spreads to the rest of your body. Paralysis may occur. Symptoms can be managed through physical therapy and blood treatments, including plasma exchange and immunoglobulin therapy.

Symptom 1: Difficulty Walking

Do you find it hard to walk straight? Do you trip more often? Are you unsteady on your feet? Is it almost impossible to go up and down stairs?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome makes it difficult to walk due to muscle weakness, tingling sensation, and other related symptoms of the condition.

Symptom 2: Lower Back Pain

Guillain-Barré Syndrome can cause you to have severe lower back pain, as well as sharp pain down your legs. The lower back pain is described as achy and crampy, and occurs more often at night.

According to MedicineNet.com, one patient stated: “My symptoms with Guillain-Barre Syndrome came on after an infection. My toes became numb as well as my chest and stomach area. One night I woke up and told my wife I could not breathe. After a battery of tests at the emergency room and conclusively determined by a lumbar puncture I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre. I had 5 days of IVIG and within a week I was home. It is now 30 days and my back pain has passed but I still have finger and stomach numbness. What really helped me was forcing myself to walk up to 60 minutes a day. I am hoping within the next 30 days the numbness in my torso goes away.”

Symptom 3: Facial Muscles

Do you have difficulty using the muscles in your face? Making expressions? Does your face have a tingling sensation?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome can affect opening and closing your eyes, smiling, talking, swallowing, and other actions. Your muscles on one side or both sides of your face may be impacted.

Symptom 4: Limb Weakness

Do you feel weakness in your legs and lower limbs? Or, are you unable to move your legs at all? Muscle weakness with Guillain-Barré Syndrome can turn into paralysis.

This condition turns life-threatening when muscles used for breathing become paralyzed.

Symptom 5: Tingling Sensation

Do your fingers and toes have a prickling sensation?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome attacks your healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system, including your brain and spinal cord, causing tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Symptom 6: Paralysis

Continued nerve inflammation eventually leads to paralysis with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Paralysis can last months or even years.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and unexpected onset. In addition, recovery is not necessarily quick. As noted above, patients usually reach the point of greatest weakness or paralysis days or weeks after the first symptoms occur. Symptoms then stabilize at this level for a period of days, weeks, or, sometimes, months. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack.”

Symptom 7: Pain

At first, you have pain in your legs and lower extremities. However, the pain moves up into your face.

Nerve or deep aching muscle pain is usually one of the first symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The pain can occur anytime, but typically happens at night or when you are moving your body.

Symptom 8: Fatigue

Do you feel tired most of the time? Don’t want to get out of bed? Guillain-Barré Syndrome is draining.

Fatigue sets in quickly and can become disabling. Even after a patient recovers from this condition, fatigue may persist.

Symptom 9: High Blood Pressure

Guillain-Barré Syndrome makes it temporarily difficult for your body to control your blood pressure. This can lead to fluctuations in your pressure and critically low blood pressure, especially when you stand up after lying or sitting down.

Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80. Abnormally low blood pressure is less than 90/60.

Symptom 10: Heart Issues

Guillain-Barré Syndrome causes irregular heart rhythms and faster heart rates.

It is possible for this condition to lead to various heart problems, including arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, and cardiomyopathy.