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Guillain-Barré Syndrome: A Rare but Life-Changing Vaccine Side Effect

By: Anapol Weiss

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) can cause someone who was once independent and healthy to suddenly become paralyzed, and it can happen very quickly. Even with prompt treatment, GBS can be fatal or cause permanent nerve damage.

What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

GBS is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. There is no known cure for GBS, but complex treatments and therapies can lessen the complications and severity of the condition.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Symptoms

The most common symptoms of GBS are numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower extremities and progressing up through the body. On rare occasions, the symptoms may start in the upper extremities. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, inability to walk, neuropathic pain in the extremities, and fatigue.

On rare occasions, GBS can develop after a person receives a flu shot or another vaccination such as Gardasil, Tdap, Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Treatment

Plasma exchange removes the blood from the body, processes it to separate red and white blood cells from the liquid portion of the blood, and then returns them to the patient’s body. Immunoglobulin therapy involves protein injections that the immune system uses to attack invading organisms. High doses of immunoglobulins to GBS patients can lessen the immune attack on the nervous system.

GBS patients may require a respirator, a heart monitor, or other medical equipment to assist body function as the nervous system recovers. Caregivers often have to move a patient’s limbs to keep the muscles flexible and strong until the patient recovers limb control.

It’s no one’s fault if this rare condition results from a common vaccine such as a flu shot, but if it happened to you or a loved one, you do have legal options. Contact our vaccine injury lawyers for assistance today.