Does anyone know anything about Myasthenia Gravis?
I was just wondering if anyone knows anything about Myasthenia Gravis or knows someone who has it? I just had a blood test done to see if i have elevated acetylcholine levels because the doctor thinks i might have this disease.
Oh Girl, it is good to hear from you!!! I have been worried sick about you. I don't know anyone personally who has this but I pulled this from NIND site for you.
"Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means "grave muscle weakness." With current therapies, however, most cases of myasthenia gravis are not as "grave" as the name implies. In fact, for the majority of individuals with myasthenia gravis, life expectancy is not lessened by the disorder.
The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that increases during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often, but not always, involved in the disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected.
What causes myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. It occurs when normal communication between the nerve and muscle is interrupted at the neuromuscular junction - the place where nerve cells connect with the muscles they control. Normally when impulses travel down the nerve, the nerve endings release a neurotransmitter substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels through the neuromuscular junction and binds to acetylcholine receptors which are activated and generate a muscle contraction.
In myasthenia gravis, antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction which prevents the muscle contraction from occurring. These antibodies are produced by the body's own immune system. Thus, myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease because the immune system - which normally protects the body from foreign organisms - mistakenly attacks itself.
How is myasthenia gravis treated?
Today, myasthenia gravis can be controlled. There are several therapies available to help reduce and improve muscle weakness. Medications used to treat the disorder include anticholinesterase agents such as neostigmine and pyridostigmine, which help improve neuromuscular transmission and increase muscle strength. Immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone, cyclosporine, and azathioprine may also be used. These medications improve muscle strength by suppressing the production of abnormal antibodies. They must be used with careful medical followup because they may cause major side effects.
Thymectomy, the surgical removal of the thymus gland (which often is abnormal in myasthenia gravis patients), reduces symptoms in more than 70 percent of patients without thymoma and may cure some individuals, possibly by re-balancing the immune system. Other therapies used to treat myasthenia gravis include plasmapheresis, a procedure in which abnormal antibodies are removed from the blood, and high-dose intravenous immune globulin, which temporarily modifies the immune system and provides the body with normal antibodies from donated blood. These therapies may be used to help individuals during especially difficult periods of weakness. A neurologist will determine which treatment option is best for each individual depending on the severity of the weakness, which muscles are affected, and the individual's age and other associated medical problems."
I hope this helps, did you ever find out more from the Dr about the Arnold's Chiari Malformation and syringomyelia? Keep us posted, Sweetie!
Roxy, my current GP thought I might have MG after my initial MRI's came back normal. Mainly she thought MG because of the loss of coordination of my eyes which causes my double vision, and because MS had previously been 'ruled out' based on normal MRI results.
The on-call neuro she sent to me happened to be a MG specialist. Between his examination, and the blood test showing normal acetylcholine levels, he quickly ruled it out. I was not suprised as I had no other muscle weakness but lots of sensory symptoms including the classic Lhermitte's. So when he said, it's not MG, but I think it's MS, I was expecting this, esp since my first GP had been saying this from the start.
MS dx was subsequently confirm by follow up MRIs showing lesions, elevated LP, neuro exam and history of 2 attacks.
MG was the only alternative dx that was seriously considered before it was clear it was in fact MS.
Let us know what happens. Wishing you the best possible outcome.
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