Myasthenia gravis is a disorder of the muscles. It is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakes some organ or bodily system as an invader and attacks it. In this case, the immune system attacks the patient’s muscles. Myasthenia gravis strikes both sexes ad people of all ages, though it is more common in women who are middle aged and older and men over 60. It is a rare condition and affects 3 in 30 million people every year.
Information. The signs of myasthenia gravis are largely seen in the person’s head and face. The structures that the immune system attacks and destroys in the disorder are receptors that bind with a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Because of this, the muscles can’t contract properly. There are several tests used to diagnose myasthenia gravis, and though there is no cure for the disease as of 2019, it can be treated with drugs. These include anticholinesterase drugs that support the patient’s muscle function and immunosuppressive drugs or intravenous immune globulin that controls the patient’s overactive immune system.
Sometimes surgery or plasmapheresis is indicated. Plasmapheresis is a treatment where the doctor removes blood from a patient who is having severe symptoms. Antibodies are taken out of the plasma, which is the liquid portion of the blood, and the blood is returned to the patient. Other patients need to be placed on ventilators if their disease is preventing them from breathing, while patients with milder symptoms only need to rest. Some patients benefit from having their thymus gland removed. Often, symptoms improve or disappear after thymectomy.