A condition in which there is a quick tiredness and weakness of voluntary muscles, it is known as myasthenia gravis. This condition demonstrates a miscommunication or loss of communication or interaction between muscles and nerves.

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What Triggers Myasthenia Gravis?

What Triggers Myasthenia Gravis?

To know what triggers myasthenia gravis, let us first have a look at how our muscles work. There are many, many nerves in our body. These nerves interact with the muscles by releasing neurotransmitters, which are certain type of chemicals. These neurotransmitters fit correctly into receptor sites on the muscle. These receptor sites are located at the junction where the nerves and muscles meet.

In myasthenia gravis, several of the receptor sites are blocked by antibodies for a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. These antibodies are produced by your own immune system. As a result, some receptor sites are available for communication between nerves and muscles. This leads to weakened muscles as there are few nerve signals received. The antibodies produced by the immune system may also be responsible for blocking a protein called tyrosine kinase. Its role is in the formation of the nerve-muscle junction. If this protein is blocked, it may lead to myasthenia gravis, as it cannot form the nerve-muscle junction.

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According to some researches, thymus gland may be responsible in maintaining or triggering the production of antibodies that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. In infancy, the thymus gland is large. In healthy adults, it is small in size. It is seen that people having myasthenia gravis have an unusually large thymus gland. (1)

Some people may get myasthenia gravis that is not associated with acetylcholine or tyrosine kinase. This type is known as antibody-negative myasthenia gravis. This may involve antibodies made for another protein called as lipoprotein-related protein 4.

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Myasthenia gravis may also be genetically related

In rare cases, women with myasthenia gravis may give birth to children with myasthenia gravis. This is known as neonatal myasthenia gravis. If treated quickly and efficiently, these kids usually get better within short time after their birth

Another rare form of myasthenia gravis is congenital myasthenic syndrome. In this condition, children are born with myasthenia gravis of a hereditary type

Factors responsible for triggering of myasthenia gravis –

  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • A medical condition or a disease
  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Certain medications like beta blockers, quinine, some types of anesthetics and antibiotics (2)

Complications Seen In Myasthenia Gravis

Most of the complications occurring in myasthenia can be treatable. However, some of them may turn to be life threatening-

Myasthenic Crisis-

  • This is a life-threatening condition that results when the respiratory muscles become very weak and cannot perform their job
  • This condition needs to be treated on an emergent basis and may require some assistance with breathing
  • Medications and other specific therapies may help people in breathing again

Tumors Of The Thymus Gland-

  • Quite a number of people having myasthenia gravis have a tumor of thymus gland
  • This gland is related to the immune system
  • The tumors of this gland known as thymomas are not usually cancerous or malignant

Other Conditions-

Those suffering from myasthenia gravis are likely to suffer from hyperactive or hypoactive thyroid gland. This may lead to problems related to clod, weight, heat etc.

Those having myasthenia gravis may also suffer from autoimmune diseases, examples of which are rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (2)

Myasthenia gravis is caused when there is a blockage of receptors at the nerve-muscle junction. Due to this blockage the neurotransmitters cannot fit appropriately at the receptors and there is a loss of interaction or communication between muscles and nerves, leading to tiredness and weakness of the muscles. Generally, the early signs of myasthenia gravis are associated with eye movements. Face and throat are also affected early in this condition. Myasthenia gravis is an incurable condition. However, with a prompt and an efficient treatment the symptoms can be alleviated, and the condition can be managed.

References-

  1. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Myasthenia-Gravis-Fact-Sheet
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myasthenia-gravis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352036

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 14, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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