There are so many physical problems that can occur with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Along with the weakness, tingling, numbness, pain, and paralysis there are other physical problems that may happen. Breathing can be a physical problem with GBS. Lung paralysis can cause the patient to be hooked up to a breathing machine. Swallowing can be another physical problem with GBS, such as choking being a huge concern. “Carpet mouth”, which is where the mouth is severely dry and leaves the tongue feeling like carpet. Facial paralysis can cause problems such as not being able to close the eyes, which can dry out the eyes or the eye can get scratched. Bed sores from laying in the same position for too long can occur. Turning should be done every couple of hours. Getting positioned comfortably takes patience. The brain takes time to connect with the body and it may take minutes for the patient to know. Once they get the right position it may not last long before they need repositioned again. Think about this, you can make yourself comfortable, but could you imagine having to rely on someone else to try and make you comfortable? Foot drop, which is where the front of the foot drops can cause long-term problems with walking later such as dragging of the foot. A boot can help with this. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which are blood clots are a serious concern, and compression socks can help prevent. Blood pressure and heart rate problems are also common. Urine retention, which is not being able to urinate and constipation, which pain medication can make this worse. Autonomic dysfunction, which is damage to the autonomic nerves that go to the heart, blood vessels, and more. Blood chemistry can result in low sodium levels. Fatigue, is another problem because the body is trying to repair itself, and the patient can get fatigued by doing even the smallest or simplest things like brushing their teeth.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome can cause emotional problems as well as physical problems. Depression, fear, guilt, and shame are the big ones to watch for. Not being able to take care of yourself and laying in a bed can really take its toll on a person. Fearing the uncertain. This is something that happens especially in the beginning. If you have never heard of GBS or know what to expect it can be terrifying. Guilt can be caused by not knowing if they could ever be able to contribute financially or physically again. Shame is another emotional problem that is present in the beginning. Not being able to tell if you need to “go to the bathroom”, being bathed, and many other things can cause the person to feel ashamed. Having a good support team can help relieve the emotional problems, but everyone is different. Do not be scared to ask for help.