A rare disease in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, damaging the protective myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves and sometimes damaging the nerve axons. Symptoms have a range of severity and can include abnormal sensations (such as numbness, pins and needles, vibrations, etc.), muscle weaknesses (due to the destruction of the nerves which carry signals to the affected muscles), aches and pains, and paralysis. The cause of Guillain-Barre Syndrome is unknown; often it is triggered by a virus infection (like hepatitis, mononucleosis, etc.). The disease occurs in both sexes and at any age. Treatment for the disease consists of treating the different symptoms as they arise and rehabilitation. Most patients (around 90%) recover without serious long-term disabilities between six months and two years after the syndrome begins. The 1-5% death rate is usually due to respiratory or cardiovascular complications. For more information, visit Guillain Barre Syndrome: An Overview for the Layperson.
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