Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the body’s nerves. Often, Guillain-Barre occurs after an infection — the body’s immune system misfires and begins attacking its own nerves instead of the infection, breaking down the outer coating (myelin) of the nerves and causing them to malfunction. Patients with GBS may experience tingling in their extremities, weakness in their legs and arms, double vision, and other neurological symptoms. While there is no known cure for GBS, treatments like infusion therapy can help.
How Infusion Therapy Works for GBS
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy is the primary infusion treatment for patients with GBS. IVIg delivers donor plasma to the body’s bloodstream through an IV. The healthy immunoglobulin contains antibodies that fight against and dilute the GBS antibodies responsible for harming the body’s nerves. Generally speaking, IVIg treatments should be administered within two to four weeks of the symptoms’ onset.
Infusion Medications for GBS
Currently, the only infusion medication proven to treat GBS is IVIg. The other primary treatment option for GBS is plasma exchange, wherein your blood’s plasma is removed from your body and separated from the rest of your blood cells. The cells are then put back into your body, causing them to produce new plasma that is free of the harmful antibodies. Both IVIg treatment and plasma exchange have the same efficacy, and there has been no evidence that combination treatment improves outcomes. What treatment option is best often depends on cost and what is most readily available for patients in a given time and place. Other medications may be given to relieve pain and inflammation alongside primary treatment.
What to Expect
Treatment expectations for patients with GBS will vary greatly based on the degree of severity of their condition. Some people may experience nothing more than mild nerve issues in their hands, whereas others may become unable to walk or move. For non-ambulatory patients the IVIg treatments are generally administered as a single dose over the course of five days. Each IVIg treatment will take around three hours to complete, and generally no repeat treatments are necessary after the total dosage is received — though for some severe cases this might be necessary.
Recovery from GBS can be a slow and steady process, often lasting six to 12 months, but in some cases taking up to three years. The outcome post-recovery also varies between individuals, ranging from a full recovery to persistent weakness or nerve problems. Fortunately, most people who suffer from GBS can expect some kind of recovery, regardless of its severity.
At Infusion Associates, we are committed to providing you with safe and comfortable care. In addition to our medical staff being there to monitor your infusion and answer any questions, we also offer several amenities to enjoy during your treatment, such as comfortable recliners, TVs, free Wi-Fi, pillows, blankets, and more. Being diagnosed with GBS can be a scary thing, but your treatment doesn’t need to be.
Though rare, side effects from IVIg infusion are generally limited to headache or flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, fever, chills, and body aches. Some patients may experience mild side effects from the infusion itself. These side effects include:
- Bruising and soreness around the injection area
- Cooling sensation down the arm
- A metallic taste in your mouth
If Your Doctor Has Recommended IVIg, Let Infusion Associates Help You
At Infusion Associates, we provide medically-prescribed infusion therapy for patients with chronic conditions in a welcoming and friendly environment. Our team of healthcare professionals is fully committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible for you or your patients. We always inform patients of any potential side effects and answer all their questions before starting treatment. In addition, we have a Registered Pharmacist on staff to make the process as seamless as possible.