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Published: Friday, 5/19/2006

Montgomery has muscular nerve disorder

Betty Montgomery Betty Montgomery

COLUMBUS - State Auditor Betty Montgomery was being treated in the intensive care unit of Ohio State University Medical Center yesterday after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barr Syndrome, or GBS, a rare nervous-system disorder.

Ms. Montgomery's office, in a statement, said the condition is not life-threatening but its progression can be "unpredictable."

The auditor was undergoing testing yesterday, and she was expected to be hospitalized for an "indeterminate" amount of time.

Ms. Montgomery, 58, is the Republican nominee for attorney general, a post she held from 1995 through 2002.

She will face state Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat from suburban Youngstown, in the November election.

Ms. Montgomery's spokesman, Jen Detwiler, said the auditor was suffering from cold and cough symptoms for a little more than a week and saw her physician on Wednesday. The physician sent Ms. Montgomery for further testing, which led to her diagnosis.

Guillain-Barr results from nerve damage caused by the body's own immune system, usually in response to an infection or other illness.

GBS causes muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, face, and other parts of the body, according to WebMD.com. It may progress to complete paralysis.

According to the Guillain-Barr Syndrome Foundation International's Web site (gbsfi.com), most patients recover, but the length of the illness can vary and prolonged hospital care is sometimes necessary.

Muscle weakness caused by GBS often gets worse over one to four weeks before it stabilizes and then slowly improves. In some people, symptoms continue to get worse for up to three months.

GBS can become life-threatening if weakness spreads to muscles that control breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. But most people recover with few lasting problems.

About one to two people out of every 100,000 develop GBS each year. GBS affects males and females equally and occurs in all age groups.

Treatment of GBS depends on the severity of the patient's symptoms and whether complications develop.

The main treatment for GBS is immunotherapy, which includes plasma exchange or intravenous immune globulin.

Treatment is started immediately after diagnosis. Early intervention appears to be effective and may reduce recovery time.

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