- Jenna Jameson said she’s been hospitalized, and doctors suspect she has Guillain-Barré syndrome.
- The rare neurological disorder occurs when the immune system attacks nerves, often after infection.
- Symptoms progress from weakness to paralysis. There’s no cure, but patients can recover with treatment.
Former adult film star Jenna Jameson has been hospitalized and is unable to walk, and doctors suspect she has a rare autoimmune disorder, Jameson shared on Instagram.
“I’m dealing with a little syndrome called Guillain-Barré syndrome,” she said in the video.
Guillain-Barré syndrome occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, sometimes after a viral or bacterial infection. It can lead to paralysis, numbness, and pain if the protective tissue surrounding the nerves is damaged.
While it’s not clear what causes Guillain-Barré, early treatment with healthy antibodies can help ease symptoms, and patients commonly recover within a year.
The cause of the disorder is unknown, but infections can trigger it
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a neurological disorder that can occur suddenly, but doctors don’t fully understand why.
Guillain-Barré affects about 3,000 people in the US, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
It often follows an infection, surgery, or injury, as the body’s immune system shifts from fighting the threat of bacteria or virus to attacking the peripheral nervous system, the nerves branching out from the brain and spinal cord that communicate with the rest of the body. In doing so, it can damage the protective sheath of insulating tissue called myelin that surrounds the nerves.
Symptoms include tingling and weakness that may progress to paralysis
Guillain-Barré typically starts with a tingling sensation in the lower body, or a prickly feeling in the feet and legs, according to the Mayo Clinic. The feeling develops into weakness in the affected areas, and can spread to the upper body, along with cramps, aches, or shooting pain. Over time, the muscle weakness can lead to unsteadiness or inability to move, usually peaking two weeks after symptoms begin.
It often requires hospitalization since it can lead to paralysis, accompanied by difficulty breathing, and heart problems.
There’s no cure for Guillain-Barré, and it can take months or years to recover
Guillain-Barré can be difficult to diagnosis and there is no known cure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatments can help by removing damaging antibodies (blood proteins that fight infection) through plasma exchange therapy, or introducing healthy antibodies from a blood donor via immunoglobulin therapy.
Medication can help relieve pain and prevent blood clots from immobility.
Recovery often begins around four weeks after onset as symptoms plateau, and can last six months to a year on average, including physical therapy to regain strength and movement for daily tasks like walking.
A small number of people, 5-10% of cases, may take longer to recover, up to three years, or have relapses or incomplete recovery, according to the Mayo Clinic.