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Guillain Barre Syndrome

Date: 19 November 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


In a rare complication, some patients infected with Covid-19 have been found suffering from Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS).



In India, such cases have been reported since August. A group of neurologists in Mumbai is now mapping these cases and their symptoms. 



  • It is a very rare autoimmune disorder. The immune system, in an attempt to kill the coronavirus, accidentally starts attacking the peripheral nervous system.

  • The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves that lead from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. Attacking them can affect limb functions.



  • The syndrome’s first symptoms are a tingling or itching sensation in the skin, followed by muscle weakness, pain, and numbness.

  • The symptoms may emerge first in feet and hands. A person then starts experiencing reflex loss and paralysis, which may be temporary, but can last for 6-12 months or longer. 

  • GBS symptoms emerge a few days after Covid-19 infection. Several patients who have recovered or are about to recover have developed its symptoms.



GBS is caused by bacteria or viral infection. In the past, patients of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome showed GBS symptoms, also those infected with Zika, HIV, Herpes virus, and Campylobacter jejuni.


Covid-19 and GBS

  • Covid-19 is known to affect digestive, cardiac, and kidney functions. It is also known that some patients are prone to neurological problems if they contract the virus.

  • The virus can cause memory fog, anxiety, headache, and depression if it attacks parts of the brain which form the central nervous system.

  • In all these cases, the virus attacks the organs or tissues directly leading to the complication. But in some cases, it can have an indirect effect.

  • It can trigger an immune response so powerful that the body’s peripheral nervous system can come under attack. 



Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and sometimes plasma therapy helps recovery in patients with GBS. Some patients may develop severe complications and require intensive care treatment or ventilator support.

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