Neurology Institute of Huntsville, Inc.
Board-Certified Neurologists located in Huntsville, AL
Myasthenia gravis can develop in anyone at any age, yet a diagnosis most often occurs in women under the age of 40 and men who are older than 60. With comprehensive treatment from Jitesh Kar, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained neurologist at the Neurology Institute of Huntsville, you can achieve significant symptom relief and lead a full life. If you develop signs of myasthenia gravis, such as droopy eyelids or changes in your vision, call the office in Huntsville, Alabama, or schedule an appointment online.
Myasthenia Gravis Q&A
What is myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder that leads to skeletal muscle weakness. As an autoimmune disease, the condition develops when your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your body.
When you have myasthenia gravis, your immune system sends out antibodies that stop a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine from binding with muscles. Acetylcholine triggers muscle contractions. When it can’t activate muscles, they become weak.
What symptoms develop due to myasthenia gravis?
The primary symptom of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that’s worse when you’re active and then improves after you rest. While the condition can affect any muscle, it often first appears in muscles that control movement in your eyes, eyelids, face, and neck.
You may experience a range of symptoms, depending on the affected muscles. These are some of the most common:
- Drooping eyelids
- Double or blurred vision
- Hard time talking
- Unusual facial expressions
- Difficulty holding up your head
- Swallowing and chewing problems
- Weak arms, hands, fingers, or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Trouble climbing stairs
- Shortness of breath
About 15-20% of patients with myasthenia experience at least one myasthenic crisis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when your respiratory muscles become so weak that it’s hard to breathe. An infection, surgery, stress, or an adverse reaction to medications often triggers a myasthenic crisis.
How is myasthenia gravis diagnosed?
In addition to performing a physical and neurological examination at the Neurology Institute of Huntsville, Dr. Kar may perform or order diagnostic tests such as:
- Edrophonium injection to verify myasthenia gravis
- Blood test to check for antibodies
- Electrodiagnostics to test muscle response to nerve stimulation
- Diagnostic imaging such as a CT scan or MRI
If Dr. Kar is concerned about your breathing, he may conduct pulmonary function testing.
How is myasthenia gravis treated?
Dr. Kar specializes in several therapies that strengthen your muscles. In some cases, myasthenia gravis goes into temporary or permanent remission.
Your treatment for myasthenia gravis may include:
Dr. Kar may prescribe one of several types of medications to treat myasthenia gravis, including monoclonal antibodies, anticholinesterase medications, and immunosuppressive drugs.
Many patients with myasthenia gravis have an abnormal thymus gland. Having a thymectomy to remove the gland often improves symptoms. Half of all patients go into long-lasting remission following a thymectomy.
Plasmapheresis, a procedure to remove abnormal antibodies from your blood, provides symptom relief for a few weeks.
High-dose intravenous immune globulin
This treatment may give you symptom relief for weeks or months as it helps maintain communication between nerves and muscles.
To receive ongoing support and medical management of myasthenia gravis, call the Neurology Institute of Huntsville, or book an appointment online.
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