Inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathies
In inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathies, the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves, disrupting the signal to the muscles.
- acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (also called Guillain-Barré syndrome)
- chronic inflammatory demyelinating peripheral neuropathy (CIDP).
Guillain-Barré syndrome is characterised by the rapid development of weakness and numbness. This is caused by widespread inflammation that first appears in the legs, then moves to the arms and the face. In severe cases, swallowing and breathing are involved and artificial ventilation and feeding are needed. The exact cause is not known, but in most cases people affected had a prior viral or bacterial infection. They often make a full recovery.
CIDP has similar characteristics to Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is generally a longer-term condition, and is more common in younger people. It affects more women than men.
About 6,400 people in the UK have a form of inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathy.
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