Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Care Instructions

Main Content

Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Care Instructions


Guillain-Barré (pronounced "ghee-YAN bah-RAY") syndrome is a nerve problem. You may have been ill or had an infection. While your body's own defences (immune system) were fighting off the illness, your nerves were damaged. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) makes your muscles weak and leaves you feeling numb or tingly. Many people with GBS do not get worse than that. However, some people with GBS may not be able to move their limbs.

Some people with GBS need to go into the hospital because the muscles become so weak that it may be hard to walk or breathe. If you cannot move at all, you may have treatment to help you breathe, drink, and eat.

With time, you should start feeling stronger. However, it may be several months before you can return to your everyday activities. During that time you may need therapy to help you regain your ability to walk and talk. You may continue to feel tired even after you no longer have GBS.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • If you can, exercise daily to help strengthen your muscles.
  • Do physiotherapy as directed by your doctor.
  • Ask your family and friends for help at home while you have GBS and are recovering. You may need help with some of your activities and chores.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You lose the ability to move.
  • You have trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter B589 in the search box to learn more about "Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.