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Guillain-Barré syndrome

Guillain-Barré (pronounced ghee-yan bar-ray) syndrome is a very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves.

It is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system, the body’s natural defence against illness and infection.

Normally the immune system attacks any germs that get into the body. But in people with Guillain-Barré syndrome, something goes wrong and it mistakenly attacks and damages the nerves.

It mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness and pain, and can also cause difficulties breathing, speaking and swallowing.

It can be treated and most people will eventually make a full recovery, although it can occasionally be life-threatening and some people are left with long-term problems.

Guillain-Barré syndrome affects people of all ages, but your chances of getting it increase as you get older.