By Dr. Mercola
Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is not contagious.
It is an autoimmune disorder that develops when a person’s own immune system attacks and damages the myelin sheath of the body’s nerves, causing muscle weakeness and paralysis.
GBS symptoms can last for a few weeks or months or can become permanent.
In rare cases, people die from GBS, usually because they cannot breathe.
In the U.S., an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS annually.
Some healthy people, who develop GBS, have recently recovered from a viral or bacterial infection within the previous 4-8 weeks but others have recently been vaccinated.
The inactivated influenza vaccine has been associated with development of GBS since 1976, when an inactivated “swine flu” shot given to millions of healthy Americans caused GBS in several hundred previously healthy Americans and there were 30 deaths.
The CDC says: “In 1976 there was a small increased risk of GBS following vaccination with an influenza vaccine made to protect against a swine flu virus. The increased risk was approximately 1 additional case of GBS per 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific review of this issue in 2003 and concluded that people who received the 1976 swine influenza vaccine had an increased risk for developing GBS.
Scientists have multiple theories on why this increased risk may have occurred, but the exact reason for this association remains unknown.”
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Early symptoms of GBS include sudden muscle weakness, fatigue and tingling sensations in the legs that can take days or weeks to spread to the arms and upper body and can become painful, eventually ending with either partial or total paralysis.
When there is total paralysis, GBS becomes life-threatening because it can impair breathing and interfere with the heart rate and cause high or low blood pressure that can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack and stroke.
It is important to recognize the early symptoms of GBS, whether you have been vaccinated or not, and seek immediate medical care.
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