Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that leads to weakness in the muscles and fatigue. It causes weakness of the skeletal muscles, the muscles which are responsible for movement in the body. The disease leads to impairment of the crucial muscle contractions and there is no cure but symptoms can be managed. This article discusses if myasthenia gravis a life threatening disorder?

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Is Myasthenia Gravis A Life-Threatening Disorder?

Myasthenia gravis leads to impairment of the crucial muscle contractions. There is no treatment for myasthenia gravis but the symptoms can be managed and the activity of the immune system can be controlled. Many people often ask, is myasthenia gravis a life-threatening disorder? It is important to understand this in detail as the complications of the disease can be life-threatening when it affects the breathing of the patient.

Myasthenia gravis is caused by the loss of normal communication between nerves and the muscles. The breakdown occurs due to the following reasons:

Antibodies: In myasthenia gravis, the immune system produces antibodies that block or destroy the receptor sites in the muscles. These are the receptor sites where the chemical (acetylcholine) released by the nerves fit into. This leads to fewer signals to the muscles which cause weakness. These antibodies also block the function of protein at the neuromuscular junction.

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Thymus gland: It is observed that the antibodies production blocking the neuromuscular junction is maintained by the thyroid gland. This is a reason why thymus gland is found enlarged in those suffering from myasthenia gravis while it is smaller in healthy adults.

Others - If not caused by any antibody blocking acetylcholine or muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase, it is known as antibody-negative myasthenia gravis. Genetic factors are also causative factors. Congenital myasthenia gravis is a rare disease present in some children when they are born.

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Factors That Can Make Myasthenia Gravis A Life-Threatening Disorder

Is myasthenia gravis a life-threatening disorder? The answer to this question is related to several factors as some factors can affect and worsen the condition, making it life-threatening. The factors which worsen myasthenia gravis condition are fatigue, illness, stress, extreme heat and certain medications like beta blockers, quinidine gluconate, quinidine sulphate, quinine phenytoin, and anesthetics.

Some of the complications of myasthenia gravis are treatable while others can myasthenia gravis a life-threatening disorder.

Complications of Myasthenia Gravis Include:

Myasthenia Crisis: It is a life-threatening condition which affects breathing in the patient. It requires immediate medical attention to help the patient breath with ease.

Non-Cancerous Tumors: It affects around 15 percent of patients suffering from myasthenia gravis and can make it a life threatening condition.

Certain patients suffering from myasthenia gravis might also have an underactive or an overactive thyroid gland, or any other autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. In such cases, the risk of myasthenia gravis becoming a life-threatening disorder increases.

Lifestyle Modification To Prevent Myasthenia Gravis Symptoms From Getting Worse

There are a few easy things which can be done at home and can prove to be helpful in preventing the symptoms from getting worse:

  • The muscle weakness can be minimized by giving the muscles a good amount of rest.
  • A physician should be consulted if the double vision is troubling you.
  • Stress and heat exposure should be avoided as both are the factors causing complications.
  • Eat a healthy diet consisting of amega-3 fatty acids, ginger, and turmeric.
  • Avoid dairy products and also reduce the protein intake.

These things obviously do no cure but can be helpful to the patient in getting relief from the symptoms of myasthenia gravis. As certain factors and conditions can make myasthenia gravis a life-threatening disorder, it is important to take proper care. Keep the doctor informed before starting any medication as some drugs are known to worsen the symptoms of myasthenia gravis.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 18, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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