Myasthenia gravis is a chronic medical condition that affects the way muscles respond to signals from nerves, leading to muscle weakness. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body's defense mechanism — the immune system — begins to attack the body's own tissues instead of foreign invaders, such as viruses.
The primary symptoms of myasthenia gravis are that muscles are weak and tire quickly. These symptoms can take many forms, and the symptoms may be more or less severe for different people.
The myasthenia gravis symptoms may include the following.
There are many possible treatments for myasthenia gravis. You and your doctor should work together to determine the best treatment for you.
Medications – Medications that improve symptoms of myasthenia gravis work by allowing more acetylcholine to accumulate in the neuromuscular junction. They activate the receptors to make nerves and the muscles communicate better and the muscles won't weaken as quickly.
Surgery – Surgical removal of the thymus (thymectomy) improves symptoms in some people. It is recommended for those who have a tumour. It is thought that removing the thymus may somehow re-balance the immune system.
Plasmapheresis – Plasmapheresis is a process to separate plasma from the blood, cleaning of abnormal antibodies, and then replaced. It improves muscle strength
Immunoglobulin therapy – Some people have benefitted with intravenous immunoglobulin therapy. It involves infusions of certain antibodies into a vein to alter the immune system temporarily.
See your doctor if you experience any unexplained muscle weakness or fatigue. If you have been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, it is critically important to be prepared to seek help in case of a myasthenic crisis. If the muscles that control your breathing are affected, call your doctor if you develop a respiratory infection, even a small breathing difficulty. Seek immediate help if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing.