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All about myasthenia gravis causes of myasthenia gravis risk factors for myasthenia gravis thymus gland signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis diagnosis of myasthenia gravis myasthenia gravis treatment myasthenic crisis myasthenia gravis and pregnancy prognosis of myasthenia gravis

What's the treatment for myasthenia gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is one of the most treatable neuromuscular disorders. The choice of treatment depends on several factors, including age, overall health, severity of disease, and rate of disease progression.

Medications that improve symptoms of myasthenia gravis work by allowing more acetylcholine to accumulate in the neuromuscular junction. This increases the chances that receptors will be activated, so that the nerves and the muscles will have better communication and the muscles won't weaken as quickly. Pyridostigmine (Mestinon) is the most commonly prescribed medication for this condition. Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids and azathioprine (Imuran), work for some people, probably by reducing the amount of receptor antibodies in the body.


Thymectomy, the surgical removal of the thymus gland (which is abnormal in myasthenia gravis patients), improves symptoms in more than 50 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, along with the primary care physician, 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.

Plasmapheresis is a process in which plasma is separated from the blood, cleansed of abnormal antibodies, and then replaced. Plasmapheresis can increase muscle strength for many people with myasthenia gravis, perhaps because it lowers the amount of abnormal antibodies. The technique is used mainly in severe cases that may be life threatening.

People with weakness of the bulbar muscles may need to eat softer foods that are easier to chew and swallow. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to obtain nutrition through a feeding tube placed into the stomach (gastrostomy tube).

More information on myasthenia gravis

What is myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is a disorder of neuromuscular function due to the presence of antibodies to acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction.
What causes myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. Deficiency of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junctions causes myasthenia gravis.
What're the risk factors for myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis commonly affects young adult women and older men. Myasthenia gravis may be associated with other autoimmune diseases.
What's the role of the thymus gland? - The thymus gland plays an important role in the development of the immune system in early life. In most adults with myasthenia gravis, the thymus gland is abnormal.
What're the signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis? - Symptoms of myasthenia gravis include fatigue and exhaustion of the muscular system with a tendency to fluctuate in severity without sensory disturbance or atrophy.
How is myasthenia gravis diagnosed? - Myasthenia gravis is often diagnosed accurately by a careful medical history and a neuromuscular exam, but several tests are used to confirm the diagnosis.
What's the treatment for myasthenia gravis? - The treatment of myasthenia gravis depends on several factors, including age, overall health, severity of disease, and rate of disease progression.
What's a myasthenic crisis? - A myasthenic crisis occurs when weakness affects the muscles that control breathing. Plasma exchange may be performed to treat myasthenic crisis.
Does myasthenia gravis affect pregnancy? - Pregnant women with myasthenia gravis often have more weakness and fatigue because of the added weight and effort of pregnancy.
What's the prognosis of myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is a chronic disease. With treatment, patients with myasthenia gravis will have significant improvement of their muscle weakness.
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