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Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Prognosis of Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases caused by an autoantibody attack on the receptor responsible for the communication between the nervous system and voluntary muscles. In other words, the disorder is due to miscommunication between the nerves and the muscles.

Given that, according to Western medicine, there is no known cure for the disorder (its causes still remain relatively unknown, although there are many contributing factors), patients diagnosed with myasthenia gravis would be interested to know the prognosis of their autoimmune disease. 

According to Dr. Janice M. Massey, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the Myasthenia Gravis Clinic at Duke University Medical Center. "If myasthenia gravis doesn't become severe early on, it may stay on a plateau." This is good news to all those afflicted with this autoimmune disorder. As a matter of fact, some 20-25 percent of the patients experience some remission of the initial symptoms of myasthenia gravis.

The bad news is that some may have symptoms that worsen rapidly, such as difficulty in speech, chewing and swallowing, and even smiling because their bulbar muscles (around the mouth and the throat) are affected by the antibodies.

Of course, the prognosis of myasthenia gravis is also affected by the kind of treatment undertaken by the patient. For example, taking corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone, may relieve some of the symptoms while the patient may feel much weaker in the beginning. Taking immune-suppressant drugs, such as Azathioprine (Imuran), may strengthen the muscles as long as the drug is taken. Using plasma exchange (exchange of clear fluid of the blood from another healthy individual) may provide rapid improvement, but it is only a short-term treatment of the symptoms of myasthenia gravis.

Myasthenia gravis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. Taking cholinesterase inhibitors--the mainstay of treatment of this immune disorder may improve muscle strength but has many undesirable side effects, such as increasing nasal and bronchial secretions, making the pupil smaller, increasing urination and urinary tract infections To improve the prognosis of myasthenia gravis, it is important to focus on exercise to strengthen muscles, and a well balanced anti-inflammatory diet. In other words, a holistic approach to autoimmune diseases holds the key to eliminating many of the symptoms.

I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis more than a decade ago. Now, I am completely drug free, and my symptoms are only minimal. How did I do it? A change in lifestyle and a holistic approach to the disease.

Stephen Lau
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