Myasthenia gravis is a chronic progressive condition and is left untreated causes severe debilitation in the patient.

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What Happens If Myasthenia Gravis Is Left Untreated?

Myasthenia gravis is the autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system damages the acetylcholine receptors. This causes muscle weakness. Although the condition is effectively managed with the use of optimum treatment strategy, if left untreated, it progresses into a serious and sometimes fatal condition. It has been seen that in the first year of diagnosis, the disease goes into the remission stage without any treatment, but the remission stage does not last too long. There is no consensus on the concept of remission between the researchers. According to some researcher, remission occurs when the patient does not have symptoms at least for 1 year while according to other researchers remission is said to be achieved when the person is able to perform routine activities. Untreated myasthenia gravis results in the worsening of symptoms and the disease progress into a serious condition. Following complications may occur in the patient with untreated myasthenia gravis-

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  1. Swallowing Problem- Myasthenia gravis is the condition mostly affecting the muscles of upper body parts such as the face, throat, and respiratory system. If the condition left u treated, it may lead to poor function of the throat muscles. These muscles are important for swallowing food. The patient has difficulty swallowing and many a time patient feels chocking due to food congestion.
  2. Slurred Speech- Muscles also helps in the speaking process. Further, speaking requires the muscles of the respiratory system to function smoothly. Due to lack of impulses in the nerves innervating the throat muscles, the muscles become weak and the force required to speak is not sustainable. The person with untreated myasthenia gravis has slurred speech with poor control over the pitch and tone of the voice.
  3. Respiratory Distress- This is the serious result of untreated myasthenia gravis. The condition in which the patient suffering from myasthenia gravis has respiratory depression is termed as myasthenia gravis crisis. It is the most common cause of death in people with this condition. The respiratory muscles including the muscles of the chest and diaphragm become weak and the patient has difficulty in breathing. (1)
  4. Difficulty Walking- As the condition progresses and the muscles of the legs become weak. This results in difficulty walking. The patient is not able to perform routine activities and requires the support of other people. In severe conditions, the muscles become so weak that the person feels difficulty in standing.
  5. Widespread Pain- Myasthenia gravis is a chronic progressive condition and if left untreated affect the whole body. The muscles become progressively weak and there is a widespread pain all over the body.
  6. Risk Of Falling- Untreated myasthenia gravis may cause severe debilitation and the patient is unable to stand on its own. The risk of falling and the chances of being fractured are significantly increased. The patient requires the support of other people. It is advised that the house should be managed in such a way that minimum movement is required to perform routine activities.
  7. Societal Isolation- As the condition of the patient gets worsened due to lack of treatment, he experiences social isolation. The condition of the patient does not allow him to move out of the house, meet with people and join get-together and occasions. Slowly, the patient distances themselves from society.
  8. Emotional Stress- Untreated myasthenia gravis make the person dependent on others for performing his routine activities. Also, the person is socially isolated. These conditions cause frustration and anxiety in the patient and the patient may go in depression. It should also be noted that emotional stress is a trigger to worsening the symptoms of myasthenia gravis. (2) (3)

Conclusion

Without treatment, the symptoms worsen, and the muscles of other body parts are also affected. Untreated myasthenia gravis may lead to difficulty walking, breathing problems, slurred speech and dysphagia.

References

  1. https://www.disabled-world.com/health/autoimmunediseases/myasthenia-gravis.php
  2. https://www.bmj.com/bmj/section-pdf/187724?path=/bmj/346/7891/Practice.full.pdf
  3. https://www.myaware.org/myasthenia-gravis

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 30, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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