Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Could I have Guillain-Barre syndrome?"

ZocdocAnswersCould I have Guillain-Barre syndrome?


I have tingling in both of my legs that started about a week ago. Do I have Guillain-Barre syndrome? How can I get it diagnosed?


Guillian-Barre syndrome is a something we call and acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Let me explain what all of those terms mean. The acute portion means that the disease comes on fast instead of slow. It is inflammatory because your body's immune system attacks nerve cells in your body. Demyelinating means that the insulation around nerve cells (called myelin) is stripped away from the nerves by the immune system. Polyneuropathy means that more than one nerve is affected. We don't know what causes Guillian-Barre syndrome, but we do know that certain viruses and other infections can set it off. The symptoms usually start with symmetric weakness in the legs. People describe their legs as feeling rubber and difficult to move. Numbness and tingling can also occur, but usually don't occur without the weakness. In your case, there are other problems that are more likely other than Guillian-Barre syndrome because you aren't reporting any new weakness. New numbness and tingling like what you are having should be evaluated by a neurologist. I suggest that you schedule an appointment today. He or she will take a detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough neurological exam. From there, you will get a diagnosis if something is wrong.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.