The most common early symptom of GBS is weakness and tingling in the legs and feet that can spread to the upper body. This often develops into more serious symptoms including:
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty with eye movement
- Difficulty with facial movement
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty controlling bladder
- Rapid heart rate
These symptoms can progress over several hours or even weeks. Most patients experience a peak in their symptoms between two and four weeks after they first notice them. It is important to seek immediate medical attention as these symptoms can become life threatening if they inhibit automatic bodily functions such as breathing or heart rate.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of GBS is unknown, although more than half of all cases are preceded by an infection affecting the lungs or digestive tract. In rare cases surgery, pregnancy or vaccinations may increase the risk of developing the condition. GBS can affect men and women equally and can occur at any age.