COVID19, a disease that can cause the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, has many manifestations or symptoms, from the most typical, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, to other less frequent, such as muscle aches, loss smell or diarrhea. However, this very new and complex disease can also cause much more unusual syndromes to appear, such as Guillain-Barré, a very rare syndrome, but which, although unusual, appears with the coronavirus more frequently than might be expected. specifically, it is five times more present in emergency patients with this coronavirus than in other patients.
What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome and why does it occur?
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disease characterized by rapidly progressive paralysis of the body’s muscles . It occurs because the defenses themselves attack myelin , a substance that covers and protects the nerves of the peripheral nervous system.
This causes the nerves to become inflamed, the nerve impulses do not arrive well and muscle weakness and even paralysis occurs, which usually appears in the lower extremities and is understood in an ascending way. If it reaches the nerves in the chest, the patient may even require mechanical ventilation.
Guillain-Barré syndrome symptoms
Symptoms are usually progressive, and among the most common are:
Loss of reflexes in the extremities
Numbness and tingling
Low blood pressure
Abnormal heart rate
Blurred or double vision
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Fainting and dizziness
Although it is not known exactly what it is caused by, it is known that in most cases it is preceded by respiratory infections – such as that caused by the coronavirus or the flu – or intestinal infections, such as intestinal infection by Campilobacter jejuni, the virus of the Infectious mononucleosis, Mycoplasma, Zika, herpes … It can also be associated with diseases such as lupus or Hodgkin’s disease.
How is Guillain-Barré syndrome cured? Treatment
Treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome must be started right away for it to work. In fact, many times the diagnosis is not expected to be confirmed by complex tests because it could delay the start of treatment.
In addition to treatment with medications intended to mitigate the symptoms it causes, such as analgesics for pain, heparin to prevent thrombosis, assisted respiration if it has affected the nerves of the chest … there is also a specific treatment.
For this specific treatment to be effective, you must act quickly, before the disease has progressed for two weeks. The two most effective treatments are:
Immunotherapy . Treatment with intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG), which block antibodies that attack myelin.
Plasmapheresis , which consists of removing part of the blood, eliminating the antibodies that attack myelin and reinjecting it into the body.
It can also be treated with physical therapy. When the acute phase of the disease passes, the patient should begin to treat mobility problems with rehabilitation and physical therapy to prevent sequelae in nerves, muscles or joints.
Although it is a serious disease, the vast majority of patients – more than 95% – recover and 80% do so without sequelae , although recovery can take from weeks to months, and some are left with sequelae for a while. life, such as paralysis, weakness, pneumonia, or ulcers.