Neurological Question #11
When the nurse enters the hospital room of a client diagnosed with Guillain-Barré the spouse asks, “Why is there drooling and swallowing difficulty?” The best response by the nurse is to explain the cause as:
- “The blood is obstructed somewhere in the mid-brain area.”
- “There are certain B vitamin deficiencies that affect the nervous system.”
- “There is cranial nerve involvement that affects swallowing and the gag reflex.”
- “This inherited condition causes nerve cells in the brain to break down resulting in difficulty swallowing.”
Demyelination of cranial nerves IX and X affect swallowing and the gag reflex, but cranial nerves III-VII and IX-XII may also be affected. With Guillain-Barré, the immune system attacks the body’s nerves. This condition may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Guillain-Barré is not the result of obstruction in the brain or vitamin B deficiency. An obstruction in the brain could be a stroke or cerebral infarction. Vitamin B deficiency can affect the nervous system by destruction of the myelin sheath that encompasses and protects the nerves, therefore, nerves will not function correctly. This condition is usually seen in beriberi conditions or Wernicke-Korsakoff. Huntington’s disease is an inherited condition that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down and can cause frequent choking or inadequate chewing of foods.
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