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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a rare condition that causes damage to nerves that control movement and your sense of touch. You may have mild symptoms, such as muscle weakness. You may have more serious symptoms, such as paralysis.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You cannot swallow.
- You faint or cannot think clearly.
- You have shortness of breath.
- You are not able to move part of your body.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new or worsening skin sores.
- You have vision changes.
- You have swollen or tender calves.
- You cannot have a bowel movement, or it becomes more difficult.
- You have skin redness, a rash, or swelling.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. 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 and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Heart medicine may be given to help your heart beat more regularly.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Stool softeners help soften your bowel movements, decrease straining, and prevent constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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:
- Rest when needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
- Take deep breaths and cough 10 times each hour. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
- Apply heat. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Keep the heat setting on low to prevent burns. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
You can help build your strength and stay safe while you recover. This can help prevent another trip to the emergency department.
- Go to physical, occupational, and speech therapy as directed. 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. You may need to work with a speech therapist if you are having trouble swallowing. The therapist can teach you exercises to help improve muscle movement. You may also be taught ways to swallow more easily.
- Make your home safe. You may need ramps and side rails to help you move around safely in your home. You may have temporary trouble feeling heat and cold items. Have someone else test the water before you bathe to keep from burning yourself.
- Drink liquids as directed. Liquids can help prevent constipation. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods can help you build your strength. 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. A dietitian can help you plan meals with foods that are easier or safer for you to swallow.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Ask about vaccines. You may have an increased risk of problems after you get certain vaccines. Ask your 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
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.