President Duterte mentioned in his meeting with the Filipino community in Russia that he has myasthenia gravis. He said that it affects the muscle of his eyes and he inherited this condition from his grandfather.
But what is Myasthenia Gravis? Is it a serious condition?
According to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, myasthenia gravis (MG) is a relatively rare condition that affects between 14 and 20 out of every 100,000 people in the United States. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, and age. It is not contagious and not directly inherited but may manifest in more than one member of the same family.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes Myasthenia gravis (MG) as a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs.
It also affects the muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing. It can also affect the muscles that control breathing. The neck and limb movements may be affected as well.
Signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis
- Drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis).
- Double vision (diplopia).
- Slurred speech.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Problems with chewing.
- Facial paralysis.
- Weakness in your legs.
- Weak neck muscles.
What are the causes of MG?
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease caused by a problem with the signals sent between the nerves and the muscles, making the muscles weak and easily tired.
It has been linked to issues with the thymus gland. The thymus gland becomes larger than normal, and there is abnormal growth of the thymus called a thymoma in around 1 in 10 people
How is it diagnosed?
- Physical and neurological examination.
- Edrophonium test – it is usually used to test ocular muscle weakness which uses injections of edrophonium chloride
- Repetitive nerve stimulation test.
- Blood testing for antibodies associated with MG.
- Diagnostic imaging like MRI and CT-scans.
- Pulmonary function testing.
Treatments for myasthenia gravis
- Thymus gland surgery.
- Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.
- medications to help improve muscle weakness.
- Avoiding stress and extreme tiredness.
There’s still no cure for myasthenia gravis but knowing the symptoms can alleviate muscle weakness. A person with myasthenia gravis could either have mild symptoms or confined in a wheelchair. Talking to the doctor is the best approach to managing this long-term condition.
Source: Manila Bulletin