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Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare neurological disorder caused by the immune system attacking healthy nerve cells. As a result, the patient starts feeling numbness or tingling in the extremities, which often rapidly proceeds to gradual paralysis. From the onset of symptoms, the disease reaches its worst condition in about two weeks, settles to a plateau for 2–4 weeks, then usually spontaneously resolves itself even without treatment.
However, during the period of worst symptoms, patient offer suffer complications from the paralysis, such as the inability to breathe without a respirator - about 30% of patients require assistance breathing at some point.
Treatment for the disease can lessen symptoms and the progression, but there is no cure for the disease. In addition, recovering patients often find themselves weakened to the point where aggressive physiotherapy is required to recover a normal lifestyle. This can take months or years.
No patient on the series has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré, but it is a frequent differential for patients suffering from paralysis. However, it is generally ruled out if the symptoms progress too quickly, or the paralysis starts from the chest and moves down.
Miller Fisher syndrome is a rare variant of Guillaine-Barre where the paralysis proceeds from top to bottom, usually starting with the eyes, proceeding down through the chest and arms. However, it is treated in an identical manner.