Post COVID ailments: Now, GBS adds to city’s worry

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 suffer from various post-recovery ailments. One of the emerging ailments has been-- Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which leads to paralysis. It can even be life-threatening. In the rarest of cases, over 24 COVID-19 patients in the city developed paralysis due to an autoimmune disorder—GBS. To establish a correlation between COVID-19 and GBS, several city-neurologists have come together to conduct a ‘first-of-its-kind’ study in India.

So far, 2.72 lakh patients have recovered from COVID-19, but their ordeal doesn’t end there. Due to the impact of the infection, individuals often develop permanent side effects like lung fibrosis, diabetes, heart-related ailments among others. In recent times, city-doctors are witnessing a rising number of GBS cases which can even be life-threatening if the patient isn’t related on time.

Dr Pankaj Agarwal, senior consultant, neurology, head of movement disorders clinic, Global Hospital, Parel said GBS is considered as the prototype of post-infectious neuropathy which is usually developed within two or four weeks after an acute infection. It is mainly observed in the last stage of COVID-19 recovery or among completely recovered patients.

“So far I have treated two GBS patients, moreover it is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system that is supposed to protect us, starts destroying us. It mistakenly starts attacking the nerves of our hands and legs, leading to sudden paralysis,” he said.

This autoimmune disorder is often confused with stroke due to similar symptoms. For instance, patients with GBS report facial muscle weakness, shortness of breath, slow reflexes, fatigue, high blood pressure among others. But as per doctors, GBS is more dangerous than strokes. The GBS is not an uncommon neurological disease. As per the doctors, they receive around 2-3 cases every month in their respective hospitals. But the COVID-19 has triggered GBS. In the past three months, doctors have observed that such cases are increasing.

“In August, neurologists received around seven reported cases of GBS among COVID-19 patients. By the end of September, the number increased to 24 patients in the state. I am sure, many cases haven’t been recorded yet,” said Dr Agarwal.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) had found a correlation between the Zika virus and GBS.

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