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Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) is a rare type of autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disease, the body attacks its own tissues. In CIDP, the body attacks the myelin sheaths. These are the fatty coverings on the fibers that insulate and protect the nerves.
Experts think that CIDP is related to the more commonly known disease Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). But while GBS is generally considered more of an acute, or short-term, disease, CIDP is considered a chronic, or long-term, disease. CIDP is less common than Guillain-Barre syndrome.
CIDP is usually classified as follows:
CIDP occurs when the body's immune system attacks the myelin sheaths around nerve cells, but exactly what triggers this is not clear. Unlike Guillain-Barre syndrome, there is usually no infection preceding CIDP. There does not seem to be a genetic link to CIDP.
Though CIDP can occur in anyone, people in their 50s and 60s seem more likely to develop it than other age groups. Men are twice as likely as women to get the disease.
Regardless of the type of CIDP you may have, symptoms are usually the same, and can include:
Because CIDP is rare, it’s often difficult to correctly diagnose the disease, at least at first. Healthcare providers can confuse its symptoms with those of GBS, because of the similarity between the diseases. If symptoms last longer than 8 weeks, your healthcare provider may suspect CIDP.
After taking your medical history and doing a physical exam, your healthcare provider may do other tests to confirm a diagnosis including:
Treatment for CIDP is often effective. Some studies show that up to 80% of people respond well to therapy. Because it is an autoimmune disorder, doctors use medicines that suppress your immune response to treat CIDP. Your medical team tailors your treatment to you and closely monitors your progress. Treatments for CIDP include immunosuppressive drugs, steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, and plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) to remove immune system proteins from the blood.
The course of CIDP can vary greatly between different people, as can the response to treatment.
Getting treatment as early as possible is very important because it gives you the best chance of limiting symptoms and keeping this condition under control. If you do not seek treatment for CIDP, your symptoms will likely get worse over the course of several years. These can range from sensory symptoms, such as tingling and numbness, to weakness and loss of balance. Without treatment, 1 in 3 people with CIDP will need a wheelchair.
In people with permanent physical impairments, physical therapy can be very important. In this treatment, specialists will work with you to maintain or increase your strength and improve your coordination. Another type of therapy is occupational therapy, which helps you learn new ways of doing everyday tasks in spite of your new physical limitations.
Some people with physical disabilities often feel sad or depressed. If this happens to you, your healthcare provider may recommend that you see a mental health professional. Antidepressants and psychotherapy can help treat depression. So can support groups for people managing chronic health conditions.
If you have been diagnosed with CIDP, talk with your healthcare provider about when you might need to call them. They will likely advise you to call if you notice worsening of any symptoms or if you develop any new symptoms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.