What is Myasthenia Gravis? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease that is characterised by progressive muscle weakness in affected individuals. Know about the symptoms, causes and treatment options here.
Myasthenia Gravis - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Myasthenia Gravis - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Myasthenia Gravis: Indian actor Arun Bali passed away at the age of 79 on 7th October 2022 in Mumbai, he was suffering from Myasthenia Gravis.

Myasthenia gravis is a type of neuromuscular disorder that is autoimmune in origin. Myasthenia gravis causes progressive weakness of the skeletal muscles and as a result, hampers the movement of the individual. 

Let us know more about Myasthenia Gravis, its symptoms, causes and treatment options.

 

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

 

Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which antibodies destroy the communication between the nerves and the muscles and thereby restricting muscle movement.

 

This restricted muscle movement causes muscle weakness and affects the quality of life severely.

 

It is one of the most common neuromuscular disorders and can affect a child as well as an adult. When it affects a child from its birth it is known as congenital myasthenia gravis, it is caused due to gene mutations and is different from the autoimmune myasthenia gravis.

 

Women are more likely to be affected by myasthenia gravis.

 

Myasthenia Gravis - Symptoms

The symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis are as follows:

 

  • Droopy eyes
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Facial Paralysis
  • Difficulty in speaking, chewing and swallowing
  • Inability to hold your head up
  • Weakness of diaphragm and chest muscles
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weakness in arms, legs and fingers

 

Myasthenia Gravis - Causes

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that is caused due to attack of antibodies on the acetylcholine receptor sites, which causes a reduction in the number of receptor sites for binding of acetylcholine which is necessary for the activation of the receptor sites and contraction of the muscles.

 

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is present in the space between the nerve and the muscle and helps in carrying electrical impulses from the brain and delivering it to the targeted muscle to facilitate contraction.

 

The reduction of receptor sites leads to poor binding of acetylcholine and as a result, muscle contraction does not occur leading to muscle weakness.

 

It can often be seen that patients with myasthenia gravis have enlarged thymus or develop thymoma which is a tumour that originates from the epithelial cells of the thymus gland.

 

Myasthenia Gravis - Treatment

 

At present, there is no cure for Myasthenia Gravis, the only treatment options available are to control the symptoms. The best-known treatment for myasthenia gravis include

 

Removal of Thymus Gland

Most of the abnormalities found in patients with Myasthenia Gravis is due to the enlarged thymus gland or cancer of the thymus gland, and the best way to control this is the removal of the thymus gland which is also known as thymectomy.

 

Using Immunosuppressants

Another course of action is to treat the patients with immunosuppressants that help reduce the reactions of the immune system.

 

Also, cholinesterase inhibitors can be used for increasing the communication between nerves and muscles.

 

Conclusion

Myasthenia Gravis is a serious autoimmune disease that alters the ability of an individual to function properly. It causes muscle weakness which impairs movement in the long term.

 

Women are more likely to be affected by Myasthenia Gravis than men.

 

There is no treatment for this disease, the only treatment is controlling the symptoms with surgery or medication.

FAQ

What is acetylcholine?

Acetycholine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for delivering electrical impulses received from brain to the muscles to facilitate contraction.

What type of disease is Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis is a neuromuscular disease that is autoimmune in nature.
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