ABOUT THE DISEASE
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes certain muscles to become weak. It affects the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body, especially that of eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs. This muscle weakness increases during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest.
- • Visual problems, like drooping eyelids (ptosis) and double vision (diplopia).
- • Severe muscle weakness and fatigue, that may vary in intensity over days or hours.
- • Facial muscle involvement causing a mask-like appearance.
- • Difficulty in swallowing and/or pronouncing words.
- • Weakness of the neck and/or limbs.
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system (which normally protects the body from infections) mistakenly attacks itself. These antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, thus preventing muscle contraction.
- Clinical Evaluation
- Blood tests - for antibodies
- Electromyogram (EMG)
There is no cure for MG, but the symptoms can generally be controlled. The goal of treatment is to increase general muscle function and prevent secondary respiratory and nutritional problems since the swallowing and breathing muscles are affected by this condition.
Treatment may include:
- • Medications - anticholinesterase medications, such as Prostigmin or Tensilon; steroids; and/or immunosuppressive medications.
- • Thymectomy - surgical removal of the thymus gland.
- • Plasmapheresis - a procedure done to remove abnormal antibodies from the blood and replace it with normal antibodies through donated blood.
- • Immunoglobulin – given intravenously to decrease the immune system attack on the nervous system.
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Guillain Barre syndrome
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