Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, causes voluntary muscle weakness and fatigue.
Myasthenia gravis is the weakness and rapid fatigue of voluntary muscles caused by the breakdown of the communication between nerves and muscles.
Myasthenia gravis commonly affects women under the age of 40 and men over the age of 60. There is no cure for the condition, but treatments can aid in symptom management.
Symptoms of myasthenia gravis
Signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis include:
- Muscles becoming progressively weaker during periods of activity
- Muscles become strong again during rest
- Eye muscles can become affected causing droopy eye or double vision
- Facial muscles can become affected causing impaired speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty chewing, and an inability to perform facial expressions
- Limbs make walking or using hands and arms difficult
- Breathing may become affected
Causes of myasthenia gravis
For normal muscle functioning our nerves communicate with our muscles by releasing chemicals that fit into muscle cells. In myasthenia gravis, the immune system produces antibodies that block or destroy the muscles receptors, causing fewer signals to be received, which results in weakness and fatigue.
The antibodies also block the protein tyrosine kinase, which is essential for forming nerve-muscular junction. Blockage of this protein can also contribute to myasthenia gravis.
The thymus gland is also thought to contribute to myasthenia gravis. The thymus gland is located in the upper chest beneath the breastbone. In those with myasthenia gravis this gland has been found to be abnormally large and even possess tumors.
Lastly, genetic factors have been found to play a role in myasthenia gravis. It has been shown that some mothers with the condition can pass it on to their children, but with treatment the children recover quite quickly.
Treatment of myasthenia gravis
A combination of medication and therapy can be effective for treating myasthenia gravis. Medications used in the treatment of myasthenia gravis include:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
These medications aim to boost communication between the nerves and muscles, as well as limit antibody production and alter the immune system.
Common therapies to treat myasthenia gravis are plasmapheresis, which is similar to dialysis and removes excess antibodies, and intravenous immunoglobulin, which supplies the body with normal antibodies to alter the immune systems response.
Lastly, surgery may be required in some cases of myasthenia gravis to remove the tumor present on the thymus gland. If there is no tumor present, removing the thymus gland entirely may also be beneficial to the condition.
Home remedies for myasthenia gravis
Home remedies for myasthenia gravis include:
- Planning your meal routine around the times when you have the most strength
- Using safety precautions at home by installing railings or bars and keeping objects off to the side instead of the middle of the room
- Using electrical appliances or power tools like an electric toothbrush; brushing your teeth can cause muscle weakness and fatigue
- In cases of double vision wear an eye patch
- Planning your day according to your level of fatigue and strength, also planning for breaks between activities in order to recharge