Myasthenia Gravis: severely weakened body and double vision

General muscle weakness that hinders daily functioning can be caused by the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis. This is an incurable disease in which the immune system reacts to the transition from nerve to muscle. It ensures that signals are not received properly or are limited, causing the muscle response to be incorrect or slow. What does the disease entail, how are muscle receptors affected and why is rest very important so that body processes run properly?

Myasthenia Gravis

  • Muscle receptors and acetylcholine
  • What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?
  • Preventing the condition
  • Symptoms of the disease
  • Removal of the thymus
  • Rest and medication

Muscle receptors and acetylcholine

The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is responsible for the transmission of signals and impulse behavior. It forms the basis for the automatic functioning of body parts, such as the contraction of muscles, the secretion of fluids at the right time and other processes. The brain initially sends an electrical signal through the nerves until it reaches the correct nerve ending. The nerve ending then produces the neurotransmitter to communicate with the surrounding tissue, muscles and organs. To receive this data, tissues contain receptors that recognize the substance. The muscle can then respond by applying tension to it. In the case of this disease, the functioning of those receptors is affected.

What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?

The immune system or defense will tackle all foreign elements. The aim is to keep the body healthy, but can cause problems if certain elements are considered foreign to the body. In this case, the receptors are regarded as foreign elements, which means that they are continuously attacked by the resistance. In other words, the receptors are gradually completely damaged, broken down and destroyed, as a result of which signals cannot or hardly be properly transmitted.

Preventing the condition

Strictly speaking, the disease occurs in all ages. Relatively speaking, there are more women who suffer from it. In men it mainly occurs after the age of 50, while in women it occurs from the age of 20 to 40. In other words, the disease will affect a woman’s life early in her life, while in a man it will affect it later in life. Because the damage to receptors can occur anywhere in the body, there may be local complaints, but it can also be a complete disability.

Symptoms of the disease

Because signals are no longer transmitted properly, it directly affects the strength in the muscles. Muscle weakness varies per day and also per time of day. After waking up one often has much more strength than later in the day. In other words, there is increasing weakness the longer one is awake and the more effort is exerted. Emotions, infections and other physically traumatic circumstances can also weaken the body further. One of the most characteristic features of the disease is that people suffer from double vision combined with drooping eyelids. People may also have problems with eating, swallowing, breathing, difficulty reading, talking for long periods of time, increasing fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Removal of the thymus

If the disease has been diagnosed, an abnormality can almost always be seen in the thymus. This organ is located between the sternum and the trachea and is of primary importance during growing up. The thymus is most important for the immune system, with T lymphocytes used for cellular defense. It is precisely until puberty that all cells mature, after which the organ becomes, as it were, useless. If the disease occurs, removing this organ gives good results on the functioning of the body. This is certainly important if the disease is diagnosed at a young age, because the organ still has a major influence on the immune system.

Rest and medication

Because efforts aggravate the condition, regular rest is necessary. The person should avoid strenuous exercise and intense emotional situations as much as possible. Regular moments of relaxation are therefore necessary to regain your strength, so to speak. In addition, one will have to take medication to stimulate strength in the body. Think of Mestinon, which is used as an acetylcholine breakdown inhibitor, so that the chance of good signal transmission is stimulated. In addition, medication can also be taken to inhibit the immune system, such as Neoral with cyclosporine as the active ingredient.

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