What is it?
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease, where the signals necessary for muscle contraction, sent by the nerves to the muscles, are altered, generating physical fatigue and muscle weakness in the patient.
In general, autoantibody binding to proteins of the postsynaptic membrane leads to impaired neuromuscular transmission and muscle weakness.
This pathology can be extremely debilitating or even fatal for the patient.
Symptoms of myasthenia gravis are related to physical and muscle fatigue and generally involve the following:
- Fatigue of the respiratory muscles, and therefore problems with breathing;
- Difficulty swallowing
- Digestive problems if they affect the muscles of the gastrointestinal mucosa;
- Unsteady gait;
- Change in facial expression;
- Pain in the neck muscles;
- Pain in the back muscles.
The diagnosis of myasthenia gravis is difficult to make, as it is very often confused with different types of neurological diseases.
But in general the tests carried out are the following:
- Stress tests to assess the state of muscle fatigue;
- Antibodies against the acetylcholine receptor;
- Antibodies against the muscle specific receptor kinase;
- Receptors against calcium channels.
In general, the confirmation of the presence of antibodies is positive to confirm the diagnosis, but in some patients it is necessary to carry out further analyzes:
- Imaging diagnostics, such as abdominal ultrasound to rule out a possible condition of small cell lung cancer;
- Endonofrium test, or the injection in patients suffering from myasthenia gravis, of endonofrium chloride. This blocks the enzyme that breaks down acetolin at the neuromuscular junction. In patients with myasthenia this drug leads to an improvement in symptoms.
- Electromyography, a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. EMG is performed using an instrument called an electromyograph to produce a record called an electromyogram. In the case of myasthenia gravis, the response to stimulation is atypical.
There is no specific cure for myasthenia gravis, but a series of treatments that allow us to improve the condition:
- Absolute rest;
- Cholinesterase inhibitors, which is an enzyme that degrades acetylcholine;
- Corticosteroids drugs that suppress the activity of the immune system, reducing the production of antibodies against acetylcholine receptors;
- Immunosuppressive drugs that reduce the formation of antibodies against acetylcholine receptors;
- Thymectomy, the surgical removal of the thymus gland (which often is abnormal in individuals with myasthenia gravis), reduces symptoms in some individuals without thymoma and may cure some people, possibly by re-balancing the immune system.
Nutrition and natural remedies
The diet for myasthenia gravis must comply with the guidelines for autoimmune diseases:
- It is necessary to eliminate molecules with pro-inflammatory action, therefore gluten and lactose, cycle on a weekly basis with gluten-free cereals such as rice, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, amaranth, teff and millet and milk and lactose-free derivatives.
- Reduce ingestion of saturated fats, eat red meat once a week, white meat with a frequency of 2-3 times a week.
- Eat fish 4-5 times a week, since it is rich in omega 3 that has anti-inflammatory action;
- Prefer walnuts and almonds that are rich in omega 6 with anti-inflammatory action;
- Prefer foods with probiotic action such as miso, natto, kefir, sauerkraut or plain yogurt, as the bacterial flora has a modulatory action on the immune system;
- Take magnesium-based supplements to improve muscle symptoms and selenium supplements to lower the antibody titer levels.