Friday, June 3, 2011
Myasthenia Gravis Awareness
June is the month in which we focus on Myasthenia Gravis. Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder. Neuromuscular disorders involve the muscles and the nerves that control them. Myasthenia Gravis affects the skeletal muscles by causing weakness. The weakness occurs because the nerve that stimulates the muscle isn't functioning properly. This is called an autoimmune response. The cause of Myasthenia Gravis is unknown and can affect people at any time, occurring more frequently in young women and older men. It usually affects the eye muscles first.
The muscle weakness of myasthenia gravis worsens with activity and improves with rest. Weakness in affected muscles may cause:
Breathing difficulty because of weakness of the chest wall muscles
Chewing or swallowing difficulty, causing frequent gagging, choking, or drooling
Difficulty climbing stairs, lifting objects, or rising from a seated position
Facial paralysis or weakness of the facial muscles
Hoarseness or changing voice
Weakness of the eye muscles, causing
Difficulty maintaining steady gaze
A neurological exam will determine the muscle weakness, other tests include
CT for possible tumors in the Thalamus
Nerve conduction studies
There is no cure for Myasthenia Gravis, so medications my help with nerve conduction to the muscles. A lifestyle adjustment usually enables continuation of many activities. Activity should be planned to allow scheduled rest periods. An eye patch may be recommended if double vision is bothersome. Stress and excessive heat exposure should be avoided because they can worsen symptoms.
For more information see: http://www.myasthenia.org/