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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of myasthenia gravis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of myasthenia gravis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of myasthenia gravis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of myasthenia gravis

Consultation and assessment

Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies of the body’s immune system attack and destroy its cells. Antibodies destroy the receptor of acetylcholine, thereby blocking its function. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. Myasthenia Gravis is a neuromuscular disorder affecting the transmission between nerves and the corresponding muscles. The disease is characterized by weakness and fatigue of the voluntary muscles (muscles which are under one’s conscious control). Myasthenia Gravis can be controlled with appropriate medications and if required, surgical intervention can be done.

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Incidence, age and sex

Myasthenia Gravis is a rare disease affecting about 15 per 100,000 individuals. It may be encountered in individuals of any age and belonging to any ethnic group. The disease frequently affects young adult women and older men.

Signs and symptoms

The chief symptom of Myasthenia Gravis is muscle weakness which increases after repeated activity or exercise. Myasthenia Gravis may affect any voluntary muscle of the body but commonly involves facial muscles, muscles associated with eye movements and swallowing. Drooping of eyelids, difficulty in closing eyes, inability to blow a whistle, distorted smile, difficulty in chewing food and swallowing are the some of the commonly observed symptoms. Arms are more commonly involved as compared to thigh and leg muscles. Affected individuals may find difficulty in activities like combing hair, difficulty in getting up from squatting position or climbing stairs. The course of the disease is extremely variable and may differ from person to person. It may have a sudden onset or gradual onset, subside for many years and again recur or may have a continuous relapsing and a remitting course.

The diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis is made after careful study of medical history and comprehensive physical examination. A blood test may be done to detect antibodies against acetylcholine. Electromyography (EMG) is a sensitive test which is done to detect the neuromuscular disorder and establish the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention

Myasthenia Gravis is an immunologically mediated disorder wherein the antibodies of body’s immune system attack and destroys its own cells. Individuals who have other autoimmune disorders like diabetes mellitus or thyroid disease are at increased risk for Myasthenia Gravis. Moreover, it may also arise due to the dysfunctioning of the thymus gland. The thymus gland is a small glandular organ which is a part of the body’s immune system.

Complications

There may be involvement of respiratory muscles resulting in respiratory distress. This phenomenon is termed as Myasthenic Crisis which is potentially fatal.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for myasthenia gravis treatment >

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