Because the symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome progress so fast, the first step in treating Guillain-Barre is to stabilize the patient. Once the immediate emergency has been taken care of, there are two possible treatments. The first, plasmapheresis, involves getting rid of the damaging substances in the blood that are causing the Guillain-Barre symptoms. The second, intravenous immunoglobulin, involves injecting high doses of healthy blood cells into the body to fight against the Guillain-Barre syndrome. The body will then begin to slowly recover.
A Answers (5)
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Riverside Center for Neurosciences answered
There is no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, there are therapies that lessen the severity of the illness and accelerate the recovery in most patients. There are also a number of ways to treat the complications of the disease.
Currently, plasma exchange (sometimes called plasmapheresis) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy are used. Both of them are equally effective, but immunoglobulin is easier to administer. Plasma exchange is a method by which whole blood is removed from the body and processed, so that the red and white blood cells are separated from the plasma or the liquid portion of the blood. The blood cells are then returned to the patient without the plasma, which the body quickly replaces. Scientists still don't know exactly why plasma exchange works, but the technique seems to reduce the severity and duration of Guillain-Barr? syndrome. This may be because the plasma portion of the blood contains the elements of the immune system that may act as toxic to the myelin.
In high-dose immunoglobulin therapy, doctors give intravenous injections of the proteins (in small quantities) that the immune system uses naturally to attack invading organisms. Investigators have found that giving high doses of these immunoglobulins, derived from a pool of thousands of normal donors, to Guillain-Barr? patients can lessen the immune attack on the nervous system. Investigators don't know why or how this works, although several hypotheses have been proposed.
The use of steroid hormones has also been tried as a way to reduce the severity of Guillain-Barr?, but controlled clinical trials have demonstrated that this treatment is not effective and may even have a deleterious effect on the disease.
The most critical part of the treatment for this syndrome includes keeping the patient's body functioning during the recovery of the nervous system. This can sometimes require placing the patient on a respirator, a heart monitor, or other machines that assist body function. The need for this sophisticated machinery is one reason why Guillain-Barre syndrome patients are usually treated in hospitals.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital answeredDoctors usually treat Guillain-Barre syndrome with two forms of treatment that can lessen the severity of symptoms and accelerate recovery.
- Plasmapheresis is a procedure in which doctors filter abnormal antibodies from the blood. Plasmapheresis is effective in relieving the symptoms of muscle weakness and fatigue and speeds recovery.
- High-dose immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg), in which patients receive infusions of the immune proteins derived from normal donors, can lessen the immune system's attack on the nervous system and also speed the time to recovery.
There is no cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). However, certain treatments can lessen the intensity of the condition and speed up recovery for most people. The general treatment for GBS is supportive care to help with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and using the toilet. For some, recovery can take a long time, from several months to a year or more. GBS is considered a medical emergency and most patients are admitted to intensive care (ICU) soon after diagnosis.
- Plasmapheresis: Individuals diagnosed early in the course of GBS and those who are immediately ill often respond well to plasmapheresis, or blood plasma exchange. In this procedure, blood is withdrawn and passed through a series of filters that separate the different types of blood cells. The blood cells are then suspended in donor or synthetic (man-made) plasma and returned to the individual's body. Plasmapheresis is thought to remove the substances that damage myelin. It may shorten the course of GBS, alleviate symptoms, and prevent paralysis.
- Medications: Muscle and joint pain can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®). If the individual has a bleeding disorder or takes blood thinning medications (such as warfarin or Coumadin®), acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) may be used. Narcotic pain relievers, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin® or Lortab®) or acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol #3), may also be taken. However, these medications may cause side effects such as constipation and drug dependence. Muscle spasms can be controlled with muscle relaxants such as diazepam (Valium®), although the risk of dependence is high.
- Physical therapy: Before recovery begins, caregivers move the patient's arms and legs to prevent stiffness. After symptoms subside, the rehabilitation team will prescribe an active exercise routine to help regain muscle strength and independence. Training with wheelchairs or braces may give the individual greater mobility.
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Treatment option for GBS include intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasmapheresis.
Studies have shown both to be equally effective is decreasing the severity and shortening the duration of GBS.
Both are associated with distinct side effects and the treatment is decided on by the treating physician.