Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease, which is chronic in nature. It causes of weakness in the skeletal or the voluntary muscles of the body. The name myasthenia gravis is derived from Latin and Greek. It means, “ Muscle weakness of grave severity." Myasthenia gravis is not deadly in nature. With the advent of modern medicines, myasthenia gravis has become less painful then before.
The muscle weakness is more when the muscles are active and weakness reduces after taking rest. Mostly, muscles controlling the eye and eyelid movement, facial muscles, jaw muscles, mouth muscles and throat muscles are affected. Sometimes, muscles controlling breathing and the spines and limb movements may also be affected.
Causes of Myasthenia Gravis –
Myasthenia gravis occurs when the message given by the nerve impulses to the muscles become defective or faulty. The transmission of message between the nerves and the muscles happen at the place where connecting nerve cells meet the controlled muscles. When the message transmitters get faulty, the muscles lose the capacity to contract. In this disease, the body’s immune system attacks itself.
Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis –
Myasthenia gravis may begin suddenly. It may be difficult to judge the symptoms initially. Generally, the person experiences problem in the eye muscles. Many a times, the person may experience problem in swallowing and speech may seem to be slurred. The severity of the muscle weakness may differ from person to person. In some the muscle weakness may be limited to just one muscle, say, eye muscle, in others, it may affect several muscles at a time. When the muscles controlling breathing are affected, the patient suffers miserably. In some patients, there may be the vision may be affected, or the eyes droop, there could be weakness in other parts of body say, arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck.
Myasthenia gravis occurs can affect both males and females. Generally it affects women under the age of 40 and men over 60 years of age. However, it could occur at any age. A mother may pass Myasthenia gravis to her fetus. However, with in a span of 2 to 3 months, the symptoms will go away on its own without the need of any medicine. Myasthenia gravis is not a genetic disease. It is not contagious.
Diagnoses of Myasthenia Gravis –
Myasthenia gravis is not diagnosed easily. Since weakness can happen in any other disease, mild myasthenia gravis is often not diagnosed. Doctors will generally ask for a blood report to find acetylcholine receptor antibodies. There is a very level of antibodies present in the patients with myasthenia gravis.
Treatment of myasthenia Gravis -
Myasthenia gravis can be treated with out much difficulty. Medicines containing anticholinesterase like neostigmine and pyridostigmine, help reduce muscle weakness. Drugs like prednisone, cyclosporine, and azathioprine may be prescribed. These medicines prevent the production of abnormal antibodies and improve muscle strength. These medicines may have side effects and must not be used profusely.
In certain cases, where the myasthenia gravis is severe, the thymus gland may be removed with the help of surgery. The neurologist will determine the course of therapy and the medicines to be given.