Muscle Weakness A Sign Of Myasthenia Gravis
In myasthenia gravis, certain muscles tire quickly, especially those of the face, lips, tongue, neck and throat. The usual victims are women below 40 or older than 70 but the disease may occur at any age.
'The disorder affects only the function of your muscles, and the muscle weakness you experience improves when you rest. Myasthenia gravis may cause double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulties with speech, chewing, swallowing and breathing, as well as weakness of your limbs,' said the Mayo Clinic.
Its cause is unknown but it is associated with thyroid disorders and thymonas (tumors of the thyroid gland). The symptoms of myasthenia gravis are due to the lack of acetlycholine which is needed for the transmission of nerve impulses to muscle fibers.
'In myasthenia gravis, there's a breakdown in communication between your nerves and your muscles. The culprit is your immune system. For unknown reasons, myasthenia gravis causes your immune system to produce antibodies that block or destroy many of the receptor sites for acetylcholine in your muscles. With fewer receptor sites available, your muscles receive fewer nerve signals, resulting in weakness,' explained the Mayo Clinic.
'It's believed that the thymus gland, a part of your immune system located in the upper chest beneath the breastbone, may trigger or maintain the production of these antibodies. Large in infancy, the thymus is small in healthy adults. But, in some adults with myasthenia gravis, the thymus is abnormally large. Some people also have tumors of the thymus. Usually, thymus gland tumors are noncancerous (benign),' the Mayo Clinic added.
Symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly. The first signs of the disease are weak eye closure, ptosis (dropping of the upper eyelid) and diplopia (double vision).
Myasthenic patients often have blank and expressionless faces. Their speech may be slurred and their neck muscles may become too weak to support their heads.
They are usually strong in the morning and weak throughout the day. Exercise and repeated movements make their condition worse. Symptoms become severe with menstruation, emotional stress, exposure to sunlight, infections and certain medications.
If the respiratory muscles are involved, patients become susceptible to pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections. Death follows when important muscles stop functioning.
Anticholinesterase drugs are given for fatigue and muscle weakness but they have many side effects like headaches, sweating, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, Surgery is another option but it doesn't work for all people.
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About the author:
Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine http://www.HealthLinesNews.com.