Myasthenia gravis

Table of contents:
1- What is myasthenia gravis?
2- Prognosis of the disease
3- Symptoms of myasthenia gravis
4- How is the diagnosis?
5- What are the causes of myasthenia gravis?
6- Can myasthenia gravis be prevented?
7- What is the treatment?
8- Which specialist treats it?

What is myasthenia gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal muscles of the body.

The most commonly affected muscles are eye movements, facial expression, speech, chewing and swallowing. Muscles controlling breathing, limb and neck movements may also be affected.

Repetitive muscle activity weakens the muscle. Rest allows recovery. Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles.

The most frequent symptoms can be
facial expression in particular.

Prognosis of the disease

This disease is classified according to the different degrees of muscle involvement in the Osserman classification. The aim of this distinction is to arrive at an adequate prognosis and treatment.
On the other hand, today there is another classification made by the American Myasthenia Foundation that contemplates a mild, moderate and severe degree.

Symptoms of myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis has various symptoms. Firstly, it usually manifests itself in the eyes through ptosis or drooping eyelids, which can affect one or two eyes. Other symptoms of this pathology are double vision, weakness in the arms and legs, fatigue and difficulty breathing, speaking, chewing or swallowing.

In addition, myasthenia gravis causes muscle weakness, which worsens if the muscles are used. In most cases, symptoms decrease with rest.
Symptoms of myasthenia gravis progressively advance over time and usually peak within a few years after the onset of the disease.

Medical tests for myasthenia gravis

In order for the specialist to make a correct diagnosis of the disease, different medical tests must be performed, in addition to analyzing the symptoms and reviewing the patient’s medical history. Among the different tests are.

  • Neurological examination.
  • Edrophonium test.
  • Ice bag test.
  • Blood tests.
  • Repetitive nerve stimulation.
  • Single fiber electromyography.
  • Imaging tests.
  • Pulmonary function tests.
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What are the causes of myasthenia gravis?

There are different factors that can lead to myasthenia gravis:

  • Antibodies: in any human body, nerves communicate with muscles through the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which meet their corresponding receptors on muscle cells at the neuromuscular junction. During this disease, the immune system creates antibodies that destroy or collapse many muscle receptors for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Consequently, with fewer receptors, the muscles receive fewer nerve connections and weakness results.
  • The thymus may be another cause: scientists believe that the thymus, the gland that integrates the immune system located in the upper part of the thorax, under the sternum, may increase or maintain the production of antibodies that block acetylcholine.

On the other hand, there are other causes that have nothing to do with antibodies and will generally lead to seronegative myasthenia gravis. Many times antibodies against another type of protein, related to a lipoprotein receptor, or genetic factors affect the appearance of this pathology.

Finally, there are also risk factors that increase the damage of myasthenia gravis: fatigue, the complication of a disease, stress and certain medications in particular such as beta-blockers, guindine gluconate, guindine sulfate and some anesthetics and antibiotics.

Can it be prevented?

There are currently no known measures that can prevent myasthenia gravis, because the specific causes of this type of autoimmune disease are unknown.

Treatments for myasthenia gravis

Specialists can use different treatments, alone or in combination with other techniques, in order to alleviate the symptoms of myasthenia gravis:

  • Medications
    • Cholinesterase inhibitors
    • Corticosteroids Immunosuppressants
  • Intravenous therapy
    • Plasmapheresis
    • Intravenous immunoglobulin
    • Monocional antibody
  • Surgery
    • Video-assisted thymectomy
    • Robotic thymectomy

What specialist treats it?

The neurologist is the specialist in charge of treating myasthenia gravis. From Top Doctors you can make an appointment with a professional specialized in this type of disease, you can also find the closest specialist in your geographical area and that best suits your needs.