New vaccine side effect? Reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome after Covid-19 vaccinations are currently under review. What is behind the rare nervous disease – and how it makes itself felt.
In connection with the Covid-19 vaccinations, complications can occur in very rare cases. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), which is responsible for the safety of vaccines in Germany, is currently monitoring cases of the Guillain-Barré-Syndroms (GBS) reported after vaccination with Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Even after the gift of Biontech/ Pfizer and Moderna had few GBS cases.
According to the German Society for Neurology (DGN), however, the overall risk of GBS is very low. A causal connection with the vaccines has not yet been sufficiently proven.
According to the US health authority FDA, the package insert for the J&J vaccine will in future still receive a warning. So far, around 100 suspected GBS cases have been reported in the USA after corona vaccinations. Most of these occurred within 42 days of vaccination.
That Guillain-Barré-Syndrom (GBS) is a rare nerve disease in which the own immune system attacks the covering of the nerve cells. Around one in one hundred thousand people in Germany falls ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome every year. GBS can occur at any age, but it is more common in old age.
Paralysis and muscle weakness: warning signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome
Doctors assume that GBS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system is mistakenly directed against its own body. In the case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, the nerves are affected and the first warning signs are tingling and numbness in the legs, arms or face.
It can also cause symptoms of paralysis that spread from the legs upwards. In severe cases, breathing is also affected, which makes the disease life-threatening.
The FDA points out the following warning signs:
- Weakness in arms and legs
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty moving the face (including chewing, speaking and swallowing)
- Difficulty controlling your bladder and bowels
- Difficulty moving eyes and double vision
If you notice these symptoms after a corona vaccination, you should consult a doctor. The sooner GBS is diagnosed, the higher the chance of a complete cure.
How to treat GBS
“Fortunately, we have an effective therapy for this clinical picture at our disposal,” said Professor Peter Berlit, DGN Secretary General. According to this, those affected either receive high doses of intravenous immunoglobulins for treatment or a blood purification process takes place in which the disease-causing autoantibodies are filtered out.
It often takes many weeks for the symptoms to subside, and in some patients neurological symptoms persist.
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