Sometimes Guillain-Barré syndrome appears to have a particular trigger. Some of the main triggers associated with it are outlined below.
In about two in every three 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 doesn't usually cause any symptoms
- glandular fever
- some travel infections, 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 less than two extra cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The benefits of vaccination are likely to outweigh any potential risk, as infections such as flu are more common triggers of the condition.
Other possible triggers for Guillain-Barré syndrome include:
- an injury
- medical procedures – such as a bone marrow transplant