Problem that affects the muscles and causes weakness is more common in women, but it can affect all people at all ages; know more
Do you know Myasthenia Gravis? It is an autoimmune disease that affects the muscles of the body, disrupting movement and promoting muscle weakness. Usually, the disease affects the eye muscles, leaving the eyelids drooping, but it can also affect swallowing, speech and other muscles in the body. To clarify more on the subject, Minha Vida ao Vivo talked to neurologist Eduardo Estephan, who told what the symptoms are and how the treatment for this problem is done.
The live had the support of Cellera Farma. To check the video in full, click on here and learn all about this autoimmune disease.
My Life: What is Myasthenia Gravis and what are the symptoms?
Eduardo Estephan: To better understand it is necessary to talk about Myasthenic Syndrome, which are problems that occur due to disorders or alterations of the neuromuscular junction. For us to move the biceps muscle, for example, the brain thinks, the stimulus passes through the spine (the medulla), leaves the medulla and goes to the nerve. As if it were a thread, the nerve takes this information to the muscle and makes it move the way we thought.
For the muscle to move, however, this connection between nerve and muscle is necessary, and this place is called the neuromuscular junction. Myasthenic syndromes are problems in these structures, which lead to weaknesses, as you cannot move your muscles properly because of a defect in this connection.
Myasthenia Gravis is a defect in this junction caused by an autoimmune problem, that is, the body itself produces an antibody that, due to an immunological error, ends up recognizing, in the case of Myasthenia, the neuromuscular junction, leading to its destruction and defect. The main symptom, then, is weakness.
Myasthenia Gravis can affect any muscle that we call striatum, which is the muscle that we can control. Among them is the musculature of the back, face, legs, arms and eyes. In Myasthenia Grave, the most affected are the eye muscles, both for opening and closing the eyes, as well as the face.
In addition, it affects the bulbar muscles, which are those muscles that we use to swallow, speak, chew and breathe. They are muscles very affected by myasthenic syndromes.
Another characteristic of myasthenic syndromes is that they are not the same every day, but it changes: some days are better, others are worse. And several factors influence and can worsen myasthenic symptoms, such as stress, some medications, or an infection. However, mainly the effort can worsen these symptoms, because they are muscles that are “weaker”.
My Life: Is the difficulty in swallowing a symptom of myasthenia?
Eduardo Estephan: Yes, swallowing is part of this bulbar musculature. Speech and vocal cord contraction are also part of this, and it is characteristic of myasthenia to have this difficulty in swallowing.
My Life: Who are the people most affected by myasthenia gravis?
Eduardo Estephan: It is important to clarify that when we say that Myasthenia Gravis is more common in a group of people, it does not mean that it affects only that group of people. Literally, myasthenia can affect anyone, at any age, in any sex.
However, today we know that the older you are, the greater the chance of this immune defect happening. However, when we take the statistic, we see that it generally affects more women up to 30 years. But, if we take how the disease works after 40, we see that she ends up having a preference for men and the average of this ends up being very similar between men and women.
My Life: Does this disease show itself continuously, or are there crises and acute phases?
Eduardo Estephan: Several patients have doubts about this issue. When the disease starts, in the first year it is usually more active – of course it varies from patient to patient, and in that period, it can progress. It usually starts in the ocular musculature and progresses to the bulbar musculature (speech, swallowing) and can later go to the limbs (breathing, etc.).
Generally, when 1 or 2 years, at the most, Myasthenia Gravis stabilizes, as it has evolved what already had to evolve. From then on, it only gets worse when there are the worsening factors, which are classically infections, too much heat, menstruation, some medications, stress, among others. It only transiently gets worse when these things happen.
And, over the course of several years, precisely because of the fall in the immune system, it is cooling down, losing its potency. This is the natural history of the disease, when medication is not used.
My Life: Can anxiety also make myasthenia symptoms worse?
Eduardo Estephan: This is classic for myasthenia. Stress, anxiety and depression can make myasthenia worse. Anxiety and depression end up stimulating the immune system more, causing it to produce more antibodies and, in addition, they also end up unnecessarily stimulating the neuromuscular junction, due to the adrenaline discharge.
Classically, stress and anxiety are factors of transitory worsening of myasthenia. As long as the factor is there, the symptoms worsen.
To learn more about the topic, check out the live on Myasthenia Gravis with the support of Cellera Farma in full by clicking on here.