I’m guessing that not many of you have heard of Myasthenia Gravis, often referred to as “MG”. This neuromuscular disorder causes a serious kind of weakness in skeletal muscles, muscles that your body uses for movement. Every year, we recognize June as Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month. Between 30,000 and 60,000 people suffer from this disorder in the United States, irrespective of age, sex, and ethnicity.
Myasthenia Gravis was a relative mystery until 1672, when the first case of MG was reported by Oxford physician, Thomas Willis. Today, along with the increased cases, there are also increased treatment options. Even though there are more and more reported cases each year, MG is still considered “rare”, affecting about 20 people per 100,000, according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America. It is the basic disorder of neuromuscular transmission.
What are the symptoms of MG?
This neuromuscular disorder usually occurs due to weak communication between muscles and nerve cells. Weakness in the muscles that are under your control (like skeletal muscles) is the hallmark symptom of Myasthenia Gravis. Muscle breakdown takes place because of no response to nerve impulses. Because of this, the improper impulse transmission leads to a communication block between the nerves and muscles, resulting in weakness.
Usually, weakness related to Myasthenia Gravis resides with more movement and improves with rest. Below are some of the Myasthenia Gravis symptoms:
- Trouble talking
- Difficulty in climbing stairs or lifting objects
- Facial paralysis
- Trouble with breathing
- Troubles swallowing or chewing
- Hoarse voice
- Drooping of eyelids
- Double vision
- Weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck
The symptoms may vary from person to person with day-to-day changes in muscle weakness. If left untreated, the harshness of the symptoms may increase over time.
How is Myasthenia Gravis diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may provide an examination including:
- checking your reflexes
- looking for muscle weakness
- checking for muscle tone
- checking the proper movement of the eyes
- testing sensation in different areas of your body
- testing motor functions, like touching your finger to your nose
- Myasthenia Gravis usually results in an abnormal immune response and for which Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants can be used to suppress the immune system.
- Removal of the Thymus gland can be helpful for several patients having Myasthenia Gravis and once the thymus is removed the muscle weakness reduces considerably.
- Plasma exchange may also be an option while dealing with Myasthenia Gravis, as the process may remove harmful antibodies from the blood produced by the body.
Things that you can do at home to mitigate the symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis:
- Take ample rest to reduce muscle weakness.
- If you have a double vision symptom then reach out to your doctor about wearing an eye patch.
- Avoid stress and heat exposure.
The longevity of Myasthenia Gravis weighs on several factors. Some will have mild symptoms while others will see harsher symptoms. Get in touch with your doctor if you think you may be seeing some of these symptoms. Proper treatment at an initial stage can reduce the disease progression.
To know more about Myasthenia Gravis and other neurological disorders, sign up for the below eMedEvents conferences, webcasts and podcasts.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Myasthenia Gravis usually affects people aged over 40. Women may be diagnosed before 40 as younger adults whereas men are likely to be diagnosed at 60 and above.
Keywords: Myasthenia gravis, treatment, neuromuscular disorder, skeletal muscles, Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, neuromuscular transmission , plasma, Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.
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