Discharge Instructions for Guillain-Barré Syndrome

You have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition that affects the nervous system. In people with GBS, the immune system attacks the nerves, often following an infection. However, it can also arise out of the blue. This attack can cause weakness or even paralysis. GBS is a temporary illness. Most people return to normal and have no further problems. Others may have some permanent nerve damage. Here’s what you can do to help yourself recover.


Do’s and don’ts:

  • Stay active, but don’t overdo it. Get advice from healthcare professionals, such as your therapists, on what your activity should be. 

  • Be patient. Recovery from nerve damage is a slow process, and each person’s recovery is unique. You may recover in as little as three weeks, or it could take as long as three years.

  • Be careful. If you are still experiencing numbness and weakness, limit activities in which you could fall or hurt yourself.

  • Set priorities. Decide which tasks you need to do on a given day. Save the others for another time.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you get your strength back.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

Getting support

  • Work closely with your healthcare provider and rehabilitation team to ensure the best possible recovery.

  • Seek support when you need it; then accept it. This isn’t a sign of weakness.

  • You may find it helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist in addition to your primary care healthcare provider.

  • Get out of the house. Ask a friend to visit or to take you on short errands.


Make a follow-up appointment.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Increasing numbness or tingling in your legs, hands, or feet

  • Increasing weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of movement or feeling in your legs, hands, arms, or feet

  • New neurologic symptoms, such as double vision, slurred speech, or difficulty swallowing

  • Shortness of breath

  • New bladder or bowel symptoms

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or chills


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