A variety of symptoms can be indicative of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), but which of these symptoms are also common among other medical conditions? Learn about the symptoms of GBS and the risk of misdiagnosis.   

An autoimmune disorder, GBS is characterized by the body’s immune system attacking the myelin sheath or axons in the peripheral nervous system. This leads to a wide range of symptoms, and prompt treatment will often be necessary to mitigate any potential long-term effects of the disorder.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Common Symptoms Among Variants

While certain variants of GBS have unique symptom profiles, a number of symptoms are characteristic of all acute and chronic forms of GBS. Anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms following a flu or tetanus vaccination should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Preliminary Symptoms of GBS

  • Pain in the limbs and extremities
  • Tingling sensations that start in the legs and feet and spread throughout the upper body
  • Weakness in the legs, spreading throughout the upper body

Alternatively, some patients may experience a loss of sensation. In addition, in a small percentage of cases patients have noted tingling starting in the arms and hands rather than the lower body.

Additional Symptoms of GBS

  • Difficulty with bowel movements
  • Inability to walk or climb stairs
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of eye and facial control
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Paralysis
  • Severe pain that worsens at night
  • Sudden change in blood pressure
  • Unsteady gait

In severe cases, individuals with GBS may also experience difficulty breathing. This, along with an increased heart rate or drop in blood pressure, should be treated as a medical emergency.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome: The Risk of Misdiagnosis

In the early stages of the disorder, one of the greatest challenges facing individuals with vaccine-related GBS is obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Due to the general nature of many of the disorder’s symptoms, physicians who are unfamiliar with GBS or do not use appropriate differential diagnosis techniques may be susceptible to providing a misdiagnosis. For example, potential misdiagnoses for patients with GBS include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Non-GBS respiratory failure
  • Transverse myelitis

Due to the prevalence of misdiagnosis among patients with GBS and the risk of respiratory failure in the absence of appropriate treatment, individuals diagnosed with any of the above medical conditions following a flu or tetanus vaccination should inquire further with their physicians or seek a second opinion. Whether the symptoms present on both sides of the patient’s body (common with GBS) and the rate of onset (quicker with GBS) are among the factors to be considered when differentiating between GBS and other medical conditions.

Contact GBS Vaccine Lawyer | Nationwide Legal Representation for Vaccine Compensation Claims

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with GBS following a flu or tetanus vaccination, you should speak with an attorney about filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). For more information, call GBS Vaccine Lawyer at (202) 775-9200 or request a free consultation online today.

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