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Guillain-barre Syndrome

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a disorder that results in inflammation and damage to the nerves in your body. This may cause mild symptoms such a muscle weakness, or more serious symptoms, such as paralysis.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. These medicines may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily.

    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. If you shave, use an electric razor. Avoid activities that can cause bruising or bleeding.

    • Tell your caregiver about all medicines you take because many medicines cannot be used with anticoagulants. Do not start or stop any medicines unless your caregiver tells you to. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.

    • You will need regular blood tests so your caregiver can decide how much medicine you need. Take anticoagulants exactly as directed. Tell your caregiver right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.

    • If you take warfarin, some foods can change how your blood clots. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, and other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you take warfarin.

  • Heart medicine: This medicine may be given to help your heart beat more regularly.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.

  • Stool softeners: This medicine may help soften your bowel movements, decrease straining, and prevent constipation.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Deep breathing and coughing: Deep breathing helps to open the air passages in your lungs. Coughing helps to bring up sputum (mucus) from your lungs. You can deep breathe and cough on your own, or with the help of an incentive spirometer.

    • Take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then push the air out of your lungs with a deep, strong cough. Put any sputum that you have coughed up into a tissue and throw it away. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour that you are awake, even during the night. Remember to follow each deep breath with a cough.

    • An incentive spirometer can help you take deeper breaths. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and take a steady, deep breath in. Hold your breath as long as you can, and then exhale (breathe out). Use your incentive spirometer 10 times every hour that you are awake, even during the night.

  • Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.

  • Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

  • Physical and occupational therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

Self-care:

  • Liquids: Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. This may help to prevent constipation.

  • Eat healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Home safety:

You may need to stay in a skilled nursing facility until you are well enough to go home. You may need special ramps and side rails to help you move around safely in your home. For awhile, you may not be able to feel hot and cold things as well as before your illness. Have someone else test the water before you bathe to keep from burning yourself.

Immunizations:

You may have an increased risk of problems after you get certain vaccines. Ask your primary healthcare provider before you get immunizations to help prevent the flu or pneumonia.

For more information:

  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome Foundation International
    P.O. Box 262
    Wynnewood , PA 19096
    Phone: 1- 610 - 667-0131
    Web Address: http://www.guillain-barre.com

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have new or worsening skin sores.

  • You have changes in your vision.

  • You have swollen or tender calves.

  • You cannot have a bowel movement, or it becomes more difficult.

  • You have redness, a rash, or swelling of your skin.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are drooling or have difficulty swallowing.

  • You faint or cannot think clearly.

  • Your lips or fingernails turn pale, dusky, or blue.

  • You have shortness of breath.

  • You become unable to move part of your body.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Guillain-barre Syndrome (Discharge Care)

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