Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease of the neuromuscular system, causing muscle weakness in the voluntary muscles of your body.
While the causes of myasthenia gravis aren’t always understood, it is clear that a defect exists in the ability of nerve impulses to send messages to your muscles. One of the characteristics of the disease is that it gets progressively worse while the person is active and can actually improve, when the body is at rest.
If you have been experiencing muscle weakness, slurred speech, or even difficulty swallowing, these symptoms can point to a number of health problems or diseases. After ruling out other illnesses, your doctor may diagnose you with myasthenia gravis, a disease that can be controlled with medication and sometimes the surgical removal of the thymus gland.
A blood test can be done to determine if there are immune molecules in your blood, an indication that myasthenia gravis is present.
Although many people with the disease will test positive for these anti-bodies, a negative test does not rule out the disease. Your doctor will also perform an extensive medical exam, and take a comprehensive medical history to rule out other possibilities. Other tests to determine if you have myasthenia gravis include an EMG to check for nerve-to-muscle transmission, or an MRI to check your thymus gland for tumors.
In the past, the condition continued to worsen until the patient eventually died. Now there are many myasthenia gravis medications and immunotherapies that are being explored in the hopes of both restoring muscle strength and prolonging life. The neurotransmitters that interact between the nerves and the muscles are blocked by antibodies the immune system produces.
It has the ability to affect any and all voluntary muscles within the body. It is now believed that glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive drugs can actually prohibit the antibodies from damaging or blocking the neurotransmitters. As long as the neurotransmitters are able to communicate between the nerves and the muscles, the condition can actually go into remission.
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