Myasthenia gravis is a long lasting autoimmune disease. It blocks the normal neuromuscular transmission of the nerve impulses leading to weakness and fatigue of the muscles. The immune system of our body attacks the acetylcholine receptors that are present at neuromuscular junctions. Antibodies against acetylcholine receptors are produced that bind to the receptors hence blocking the neuromuscular transmission. This disease first affects the muscles that are present around the eyes. Gradually other muscles are affected like the muscles of face, neck, limbs, etc.
Living with myasthenia gravis is a challenging task, but there are certain ways by which you can make your life easier. However, mental and physical care from friends and family members works long way in disease management.
How To Cope With Myasthenia Gravis?
When a person is diagnosed of myasthenia gravis, it is mentally a lot to take in for that person. In order to cope up with this disease following steps can be taken-
Try To Learn About Myasthenia Gravis- When you are diagnosed of this disease, you must take efforts to learn thoroughly about this disease so that you understand what your body is going through. You can ask your doctor for detailed explanation about the disease and there are books available on this topic. You can try online sources to learn about myasthenia gravis.
Learn Different Words Used By Your Doctor- Ask your doctor about all the new words that you hear. You must understand what the doctor is speaking so ask him/her the meaning of different words that they use. This will help in better understanding of the disease and you will become familiar with the words and their meanings. By doing this, it becomes easier for you to explain the same to someone else.
Proper Diet- In myasthenia gravis, the muscles of face and neck weaken, so you must eat easily chewable foods mainly soft foods. Food must be eaten in smaller quantities but at regular and frequent intervals. This will help to decrease tiring of muscles while chewing. Eat nutritious food items that will increase your muscle strength like eggs, milk, etc.
Use An Eye Patch- In myasthenia gravis, the muscles around the eyes are severely affected. Due to this you may experience blurring of vision and double vision. You can use an eye patch while reading or watching TV to relieve these symptoms. You must keep switching the eye patch from one eye to other at certain intervals in order to reduce stress on one single eye.
Keep Your Safety In Mind- Due to muscle weakness, you may find difficulty in walking upstairs and on slippery or wet floors. You must install rails or bars to hold on to while you are walking or climbing stairs to prevent you from falling.
Pre-Planning- When you have to perform an errand like shopping, you must pre-plan in such a way that you perform that task while you have the most energy during the day. This will help you to reduce unnecessary physical stress. (1)
Helping Someone To Cope With Myasthenia Gravis
Few steps that patient’s family members and friends must take to cope up with myasthenia gravis-
Try To Be Available For The Patient- If someone you know is suffering with myasthenia gravis, try to be available for that person whenever they need you. This will help in reducing the mental stress and improvement of health of the patient.
Help Them With Their Chores- The patient with myasthenia gravis has weakened muscles and fatigue and performing more activities worsens the symptoms. So, the family members must try to help them out and reduce their physical stress. You can help them with daily activities like getting ready, shopping, etc.
Listen To The Patient- When the patient is suffering with myasthenia gravis, he/she might feel low and unhappy. They want someone to listen to their problems. So, the family members must be there to listen to them whenever they feel like sharing and talking to someone. Many times the patient might be agitated and frustrated; you must be there to calm them down.
Learn About The Medications- You must know what medications the patient is taking and what the action of each medication is. You must also ask the health care provider about the side effects of each medication so that when they appear you will know what is to be done or when medical help must be sought. (1)
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic disease; it makes person feel weak and vulnerable. You must take proper care of yourself. This disease cannot be cured but the health can be maintained and improved by following simple steps. The patient must follow a proper and healthy diet to improve muscle strength. Medications must be taken on time without fail. Family members can contribute in many ways to make life easier for the patient. In short physical and mental support for the patient by family members works a long way.
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