Myasthenia gravis is a disorder of the muscles in which there is a weakness and quick fatigue of the voluntary muscles. It is a condition that arises when there is a loss of communication or interaction between muscles and nerves.
What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Person With Myasthenia Gravis?
Myasthenia gravis cannot be cured. However, with an efficient treatment, its symptoms can be managed effectively. Myasthenia gravis occurs in mild and severe forms. In many cases, treatment is not even required for milder forms of myasthenia gravis. In moderate cases, people can take medicines and continue to do their routine work and lead a normal life. The life expectancy of people with myasthenia gravis is almost near to normal life span of people, except in very rare cases. (1) Your doctor will start with your medical history and he will also conduct a thorough physical examination and ask you questions about how you feel. He may ask you to go for various tests.
He may evaluate your neurological condition by checking-
- Muscle tone
- Muscle strength
- Your ability to sense light and touch
If there is a muscle weakness that gets better by rest, it may be indicative of myasthenia gravis
To confirm the diagnosis, a few tests may be done-
If edrophonium chloride is injected in your body, it may show a temporary but sudden improvement in the strength of your muscles. This may indicate that you are suffering from myasthenia gravis
Edrophonium chloride works by blocking an enzyme that is responsible for breaking acetylcholine- a chemical responsible for the communication between your nerves and muscles.
Test With An Ice Pack-
- In case of a droopy eyelid, this test may be done
- Your doctor puts a bag of ice on your eyelid
- After a couple minutes, the doctor will remove this bag and check for signs of improvement
- This test can also be conducted in place of edrophonium test
A blood test may show a presence of some abnormal antibodies that should not be present otherwise
- In this test, electrodes are attached to the skin over the muscle which is to be tested
- Small pulses of electricity are sent to check the ability of the nerve to communicate
- Diagnosis is made if the ability of the nerves to send signals weakens with tiredness
An electromyography is used to measure the electrical activity going on between the brain and the muscle
To check whether the condition is affecting breathing by any means, your doctor may conduct a pulmonary function test. (2)
Treatment Of Myasthenia Gravis
Myasthenia gravis cannot be cured. However, some treatments in single or as a combination, may be given to relieve and manage the symptoms. The medications may include-
- Cholinesterase inhibitors- these medicines enhance the communication between muscles and nerves
- Corticosteroids- these medicines work on the immune system and arrest the production of antibodies. However, these medicines are not safe for prolonged use
- Immunosuppressants- these medicines modify your immune system. However, there may be serious side effects
Other Therapies May Include-
- Plasmapheresis- which is a filtering process like dialysis
- Intravenous immunoglobulin- this process gives your body natural antibodies which will help in altering your immune system response
- Monoclonal antibody- this medicine reduces certain white blood cells which improves myasthenia gravis as immune system is modified
- Surgery- if there is a tumor in thymus gland, it may be removed with surgery and symptoms of myasthenia gravis may be improved. If there is no tumor, then the thymus gland itself may be removed. However, it may take a long time to show any significant results. (2)
- Life expectancy of people having myasthenia gravis is almost normal when compared with healthy people.
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- What Is The Best Treatment For Myasthenia Gravis?
- Does Thymectomy Cure Myasthenia Gravis?
- Can You Prevent Myasthenia Gravis?