Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a rare autoimmune disorder that involves skeletal muscle weakness. It is a progressive disorder that becomes worse with repeated use of the affected muscle. The muscles which are most commonly affected include those involved in speaking, chewing, swallowing, eye and eyelid movement and facial expressions. Myasthenia gravis can spread to the other body parts within one or two years. In severe cases, MG can become life-threatening.
The primary symptom of myasthenia gravis is the weakness of the skeletal muscles which are under one’s control. This weakness worsens with an increased use of the muscle. The symptoms of MG may vary from person to person and may include:
Usually, the symptoms get worse when the person is tired. Consult the doctor if the above symptoms are long-lasting or if they become bothersome.
Myasthenia gravis occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells. The antibodies attack the receptors on the muscles, thereby, reducing their number. Due to this reduction in the available receptors, the signals from the nerves are not properly received by the muscles, leading to their weakness. However, the exact cause of such an autoimmune reaction is not clear so far.
Although myasthenia gravis can affect people of any age group, it is more common from the age of 40 years in women, while in men it occurs usually after 60 years of age.
The doctor checks the signs and symptoms and performs a physical examination of the patient. Additionally, the medical and medication history of the patient is collected. Following this, a neurological examination may be performed which includes:
Further tests as mentioned below may help in a critical diagnosis of myasthenia gravis:
In very rare cases, MG gets better even without treatment. Treatment aims at improving the symptoms and the quality of life of the patient. Treatment options as detailed below may be used either alone or in combinations:
Plasmapharesis is the method in which harmful antibodies are removed from the blood to improve muscle strength. However, it is a short-term treatment and is usually performed prior to surgery.
Nearly 15% of the patients with MG are found to have a tumor in the thymus gland. This gland is located under the breastbone and is associated with the immune system. Therefore, treatment in such patients includes the surgical removal of the thymus gland.
Hospitalization may be required if the symptoms such as breathing or swallowing difficulties worsen.
Following measures can help to reduce the symptoms of myasthenia gravis:
Geeta Dutta, a patient from West Bengal got in touch with Dr Venugopal Subramaniam, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Manipal Hospitals Whitefield through the OPD clinic programme and then later was guided by him towards a craniotomy & brain tumour removal.
Manika Saha, a patient from West Bengal got in touch with Dr. Venugopal Subramaniam, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Manipal Hospitals Whitefield through the OPD clinic programme and then later was guided by him towards a brain tumour removal in Whitefield, Bengaluru which gave her vision back.
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