Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune condition in which the person’s nerves are attacked by the body’s own immune defence system. As a result of the attack, the nerve insulation (myelin) and sometimes even the inner covered part of the nerve (axon) is damaged and signals are delayed or otherwise changed - this causes a spreading paralysis.
The cause is unknown however the syndrome appears to be triggered by acute viral or bacterial illnesses, such as respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, occurring one to three weeks earlier. The resultant antibodies attack the myelin sheaths that coat the nerve cells, causing paralysis, muscular weakness and strange sensations as the sensory nerves of the skin are affected.
Most people recover, but it may take six months to two years or more. There is no cure.