When to have these treatments:
The above two treatments are probably not worthwhile in mildly affected patients, i.e those who can still walk across a room unaided. If GBS patients cannot walk, or need help to walk, they should receive one of these treatments immediately the diagnosis is made (within 24-48 hrs at most).
The longer the delay in starting treatment, the less likely it is to be effective. On average, these treatments halve the duration of the illness in any individual case. They do not necessarily lead to an instant cure and some patients continue to get worse even on treatment. In these cases, all we can say is that the GBS patient in question would be even worse still without treatment.
Some experts feel it is not worth giving any treatment after the first couple of weeks, unless the GBS patient is still deteriorating. Occasional patients require two courses of treatment. Although they do seem to shorten the duration of the illness, particularly the time on a ventilator and the time to walk unaided, they are a help rather than a cure and improved treatments are being sought.
If you are worried that the expense or difficulty in prescribing or administering these treatments may result in their not being given, then ask your doctor why they are not being given. Remember that the cost of intensive care is also extremely expensive so that using these procedures actually saves money.
Since GBS usually gets better on its own, a very important part of treatment is general nursing and medical care with physiotherapy and, if necessary, intensive care. No drugs have been proven to make any difference to the speed of recovery at this point in time, although further trials are being conducted in this area.