Sometimes Guillain-Barré syndrome appears to have a particular trigger. These are some of the main triggers.
In most cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome occurs a few days or weeks after an infection.
Infections that have been known to trigger the condition include:
- food poisoning – especially if caused by Campylobacter bacteria
- cytomegalovirus – a common virus that does not usually cause any symptoms
- glandular fever
- some tropical diseases, including dengue and the Zika virus
In the past, vaccinations (particularly the flu vaccine used in the US during a swine flu outbreak in 1976) were linked to an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
But research has since found the chances of developing the condition after having a vaccination are extremely small.
For example, a study into the vaccine used during the 2009 swine flu outbreak found that for every million people who had the vaccination, there were fewer than 2 extra cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
And evidence suggests that you are far more likely to get Guillain-Barré syndrome from an infection, such as the flu, than the vaccine designed to prevent the infection, such as the flu jab.