Guillain-Barre Syndrome (“GBS”) is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body’s immune system to attack your nerves. It can begin with tingling and numbness in your extremities and quickly progress into full paralysis that affects the entire body. GBS is usually a temporary disease, but recovery times can vary from a few weeks to several years, while some people continue to experience lingering symptoms.
Symptoms of GBS can rapidly worsen, so you should seek medical attention if you have any symptoms. GBS typically starts as tingling or prickling sensations in the finger, toes, ankles, or wrists. Other symptoms include weakness in the lower body, difficult with eye or facial movements, including swallowing, chewing, and speaking, difficult with bladder control or bladder function, and difficulty breathing. The symptoms of GBS typically peak two to four weeks after they initially appear, then plateau, followed by a gradual recovery period.
The cause of GBS is unknown, but it often appears shortly after a respiratory or digestive tract infection, or some other illness. Anyone can suffer from GBS, but men and older adults are at a higher risk of being affected.
Some symptoms of GBS are similar to other nerve disorders, which can make diagnosing the disease difficult. Doctors will look for symmetrical symptoms on both sides of the body that are rapidly increasing in severity, This distinguishes GBS from some other diseases. Spinal taps, electromyography, and nerve conduction studies may also aid in diagnosis.
Treatment for GBS is mostly focused on reducing symptoms and aiding recovery. Most people can walk and regain full motor control within a year, and sometimes in just a few months of GBS first appears. Some people experience delayed recovery and residual weakness that could prevent you from working for longer periods of time. Muscle weakness, breathing difficulties, and lack of coordination or balance may all impact your ability to work.
If you are suffering from GBS, consider filing a claim for long-term disability benefits as you recover. While you may expect to be back at work shortly, each person’s needs for recovery are unique and it may take longer than expected to return to work.
If your claim for long-term disability benefits has been denied, talk to a long-term disability attorney about filing an appeal.
Contact the experienced ERISA lawyers at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick to discuss whether you should appeal a denial of your claim for long-term disability benefits. Visit our website to learn more about disability claim denials and to download our free ERISA law guide.