Guillain-Barre Syndrome - a.k.a Acute Idiopathic Peripheral Autonomic Pandysonnomnia

Upper respiratory infections are faithy common. A person can, however, have just the right genetics to cause these infections to start attacking nerves. Guillain-Barre syndrome does just this: It diverts the immune system's disease-curing agents to attack the nerves in a person's arms and legs that control blood vessels. Consequently, it can take someone with this syndrome a bit longer to gain equilibrium when he or she stands up than most people.

Some strains of this disorder return each year or so, at which time the affected with be homebound for a week or two. During an attack, blood pressure will be dangerously high when lying down and dangerously low when standing. This will leave the individual without the ability to walk normally or safely drive a car. Total recovery from an episode generally takes between 3 and 6 months.

In order to verify that one has this disorder, neurologists generally do nerve conduction velocity tests, about 2 dozen blood/urine tests, and a spinal tap. Since there are no known causes, there are few known treatments. Plasmapheresis and migraine medications have shown benefits, but they only treat the symptoms.


"Guillain-Barre Syndrome (acute idiopathic polyneuritis) is a very rare, rapidly progressive disorder causing inflammation of the nerves (polyneuritis) and paralysis. Although the precise cause of Guillain-Barre Syndrome is unknown, a viral or respiratory infection precedes the onset of the syndrome in about half of the cases. This has led to the theory that Guillain-Barre Syndrome may be an autoimmune disorder (caused by the body's own immune system) Damage to the covering of the nerve cells (myelin) and nerve axons (the extension of the nerve cell that conducts impulses away from the nerve cell body) results in delayed nerve signal transmission. There is a corresponding weakness in the muscels that are supplied with nerve impulses (innervate) by the affected nerves"
--Courtesy of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

All the names for this disorder:

Subdivisions of this disorder:

For more information, contact:

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Foundation International
P.O. Box 262
Wynnewood, PA 19096
Phone: (610) 667-0131

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
31 Center Dr MSC 2540
Building 31 Rm 8806
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (301)496-5751
Toll-Free: (800)352-9424