The recovery period of myasthenia gravis depends upon a variety of factors. These factors include the stage of the disease, age of the patient, and underlying disease and organs involved.
Recovery Period For Myasthenia Gravis
Myasthenia gravis is the disease with an excellent prognosis. The condition is divided into general myasthenia gravis and Myasthenia crisis and the recovery period and the treatment for both the conditions are different. In the general cases of myasthenia gravis, medications to reduce the symptoms are used such as steroids, or immunosuppressants. The recovery time in such patients is about 2 months and 75% of the people recover within this period. The disease goes into the remission stage, but is not completely cured. Any trigger such as infection, fatigue, stress or other factor triggers the recurrence of this condition. If the symptoms are managed with the help of medications, the patient has to visit the hospital every three months to ensure that the disease is properly responding to the drugs, however, if the condition of the patient is maintained in the remission stage through immunotherapy or plasma exchange, the patient has to visit the doctor every week. (1)
Myasthenia gravis crisis is the condition characterized by the weakening of the respiratory muscles leading to respiratory depression. If the condition is not immediately managed, it may lead to fatal consequences. With prompt action, which requires intubation and mechanical ventilation, most patients recover within six to eight weeks.
Treatment For Myasthenia Gravis
Although the neurological disorders are difficult to treat, myasthenia gravis is one of those neurological disorders the symptoms of that can be easily managed provided the treatment is customized and accurate. The treatment for myasthenia gravis depends upon a variety of factors such as the severity of the disease, age of the patient, progression of the disease, involvement of other organs such as thymus or other underlying complications. (2)
The treatment strategy for myasthenia gravis is formed through the combination of various treatment techniques such as medications, surgery and parenteral therapy.
Medications– Medications are generally used to relieve mild to moderate symptoms of the disease. Various educations used in the treatment are:
Steroids– Myasthenia gravis is the condition characterized by the overactive immune system. Corticosteroids such as prednisone are used to reduce the activity of the immune system so that they do not further attack the acetylcholine receptors. However, prolonged administration of steroid should be monitored as it may lead to serious side effects.
Cholinesterase inhibitors– These medications prevent the hydrolysis of acetylcholine leading to increased concentration of this neurotransmitter. Although these drugs do not treat the root cause rather there is an improvement in muscle health. The drug generally used for treating myasthenia gravis is pyridostigmine.
Immunosuppressants– These are the drugs that suppress the immune system and prevents further damage from the immune system. The drugs used are methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclosporine, and tacrolimus. Various side effects are associated with these drugs such as the risk of infection and hepatic diseases.
Surgery– Myasthenia gravis also involves the role of the thymus gland. In many cases, there is a tumor in the thymus glands that triggers the production of antibodies. Removing this tumor or the gland may help to alleviate the symptoms of myasthenia gravis. Studies indicate that removing the thymus gland even in the absence of tumor may also help in reducing or completely eliminating the symptoms. Surgery for removal of the thymus is known as thymectomy.
Parenteral Therapy– Various parenteral drugs and procedures are used to treat myasthenia gravis. Intravenous administration of immunoglobulin helps in reducing the symptoms. Sometimes, monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab are also used. Plasmapheresis is the technique through which antibodies are filtered from the blood. (3)
The recovery period is different for general myasthenia gravis and myasthenia gravis crisis as the treatment is also different. While the general myasthenia gravis is generally treated with oral medications, a severe myasthenia gravis crisis requires parenteral therapy as well as intubation and mechanical ventilation. With proper treatment, both the conditions have almost 7-8 weeks recovery period.