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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 following surgery, infection, or immunization. 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.


  • Stay active, but don’t overdo it.

  • Be patient. Recovery from nerve damage is a slow process, and each person’s recovery is unique. You may recover in as little as 3 weeks, or it could take as long as 3 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 doctor about physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you get your strength back.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s okay.

Getting Support

  • Work closely with your doctor 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 doctor.

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


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor 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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