Myasthenia gravis is health problem which is characterized by fatigue and weakness of muscles functioning under voluntary control. This problem is caused when communication link between muscles and nerves breakdown. As such as there is no sure shot treatment for curing myasthenia gravis, but the proper medical care can help in minimizing the pain symptoms, like blurred vision, problem in speech, breading issues, weakness of muscles etc. Even though the problem can affect people of different age groups, but it is most commonly seen in people who are either younger than 40 years or older than 60 years of age.
Some of the common symptoms of myasthenia gravis are as follows:
- Defected vision which includes blurred or double vision and drooping eyelids
- Weakness of muscles and constant fatigue, the conditions becomes worst when the muscles are used.
- Problem in making facial expressions
- Difficulty in speech, chewing or swallowing food and pronouncing any word
- Considerable weakness in limbs and neck
The symptoms of this health problem closely resembles with other health problem, hence; it is always advised to take help from doctors for diagnosing the right problem. (1)
How Myasthenia Gravis Affects The Body?
Myasthenia Gravis directly affects body functioning because as discussed above in this health problem communication link between muscles and nerves breakdown. This way body receives limited or interrupted signals from brain, which leads to dysfunction of different body movements. Hence, timely treatment is very essential for keeping a check on this serious problem.
Myasthenia Gravis Causes
Thymus gland which is an important part of immune system is located in below the breastbone can regulate production of some special types of antibodies that can effectively block acetylcholine. In healthy individuals, the size of thymus gland is small and with abnormality the size also increases. In some patients suffering from myasthenia gravis tumor like structure develops in thymus gland, which may be cancerous in nature.
The communication between muscles and nerves occurs with the help of chemical that perfectly fits the receptor sites of the muscle cells and help in receiving command from nerves. In patients suffering from myasthenia gravis, the immune system tends to produce antibodies that can block or destroy most of the receptor sites. Now as the number of receptor sites decreases, so the signals received from nerve system also reduces, this results in considerable weakness. This is not the end, antibodies can also affect or block the hinder the proper functioning of the protein name tyrosine kinase. This protein plays a significant role in facilitating nerve-muscular function. When the proper functioning of this protein is hampered it leads to myasthenia gravis.
In some patients the problem of myasthenia gravis is not developed because of antibodies or tyrosine kinase protein, this type of myasthenia gravis is known as antibody-negative myasthenia gravis. In this situation, lipoprotein-related protein 4 is the cause behind developing the problem. There are various genetic factors that are also involved in causing myasthenia gravis.
Although rare but some cases have been witnessed where expecting mother with myasthenia gravis delivers child having the same problem. If the problem is treated well from the very initial phase then the child is expected to recover from the problem in maximum two months’ time. (1)
When To Visit A Doctor?
If individual experiences any of the below mentioned problems then it is an indication that it is the high time to consult a doctor:
- Breathing problem
- Difficulty in Swallowing
- Difficulty in walking
- Blurred vision
- Severe weakness while moving arms and hand
Myasthenia Gravis Diagnoses
For diagnosing the problem the doctor first asks about the symptoms that are being faced by the patients. Further they also inquire about the medical history of the patient to know about the genetic background. If they anticipate that the patient is suffering from myasthenia gravis then they prescribe some tests to confirm the condition. The list of tests that can be prescribed includes:
- Neurological examination
- Edrophonium test
- Ice pack test
- Blood Test
- Repetitive nerve stimulation
- EMG i.e. Single-fiber electromyography
- Imaging scans
- PFT i.e. Pulmonary function tests
- After detecting the problem, doctors refer the patient to a specialist who can treat the problem the best possible manner. (1)
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- Are You Born With Myasthenia Gravis?