Myasthenia Gravis Disease
Myasthenia Gravis, is a neuromuscular disease that affects the muscles under our voluntary control. With this disease, muscles become easily tired and weak because there is a problem with how the nerves stimulate the contraction of muscles. Myasthenia gravis is clasified as an autoimmune disorder, in which circulating antibodies cause weakness by blocking acetylcholine receptors at the post-synaptic neuromuscular junction, inhibiting the stimulative effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Typically, the muscles around the eyes are affected first, causing the eyelids to droop; some patients also develop double vision. Muscles we cannot control voluntarily, such as the heart and lung muscles, are not affected.
Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis:
- The main feature of myasthenia gravis is the patient’s susceptibility to fatigue.
- Muscles normally become progressively weaker during periods of activity
- Muscles can improve after periods of rest
- Eye muscles – over 50% of patients the first signs and symptoms involve eye muscles, including such problems as ptosis (drooping of one or both eyelids), diplopia (double vision), and blurred vision (which may be intermittent).
- Facial muscles – for approximately 15% of patient the first symptoms involve the throat and face muscle. In such cases individuals may have problems with:
- Speaking (dysarthria) – depending on which muscles are affected, speech may become soft or nasal.
- Swallowing (dysphagia) – Sufferers may choke easily, making eating, drinking, swallowing pills harder. Sometimes when the individual tries to drink, the liquid comes out of their nose.
- Chewing – muscles used for chewing may weaken considerably during a meal, especially if the person has been eating something hard or chewy, such as a steak.
- Facial expressions – some people may develop an unusual or different smile if certain facial muscles are affected.
- Limbs – the arm and leg muscles may weaken, affecting such activities as lifting or walking (the patient’s walk may seem like a waddle). When limb muscles are affected, this generally occurs in conjunction with other muscles in the body, such as the throat, eyes or face.
There is no known cures for Myasthenia Gravis Disease, however there are many therapies that minimize symptoms.