Various Myasthenia Gravis Treatment Methods You Can Try

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  • Currently, there is no known cure for myasthenia gravis. Instead, treatment focuses on helping relieve the symptoms, allowing you to maintain a normal quality of life
  • In life-threatening cases of myasthenia gravis (difficulty breathing and swallowing), intravenous methods may be required to remove specific antibodies in your system to provide immediate relief

Currently, there is no known cure for myasthenia gravis. Instead, treatment focuses on helping relieve the symptoms, allowing you to maintain a normal quality of life. You will need to make changes to your routine and your home to accommodate your condition as well. Below are several home remedies you can implement:1,2

Changing Your Eating Habits

Myasthenia gravis can affect your jaw muscles, making it hard for you to chew food. Try to detect when symptoms subside, and use the regained strength to eat healthy food. You may need to eat smaller meals throughout the day, so it is best that you eat foods that are easy to chew, such as fruits and leafy green vegetables.

Wearing an Eye Patch

Myasthenia gravis can cause double vision if your eyelids experience weakness. To counter this problem, you may opt to wear an eye patch to restore normal vision. Switch the patch to the other side every now and then to help reduce eye strain.

Making Modifications to Your Home

If you have generalized myasthenia gravis, you can install railings or bars to help support your weight as you move around your home. You may also want to remove slippery items on the floor (rugs and carpets) to help keep your grip while walking.

Taking Advantage of Electric Appliances More Often

Certain routines and chores such as brushing your teeth and preparing your food require a certain amount of physical effort. You can conserve your energy by using appliances such as electric toothbrushes or food processors.

Planning Ahead

Try to do errands and other important activities when you have plenty of energy and muscle control. This will help you maximize productivity before the symptoms appear again.

Surgery May Be Needed, If Other Treatments Do Not Work

Your doctor may require surgery to remove your thymus gland, especially if it has developed a tumor. However, there are some instances where you may not have a tumor, but the gland will still need to be removed. Either way, this procedure is known as a thymectomy.3

Before undergoing a thymectomy, you must discuss with your doctor the benefits and potential downsides first. According to the Mayo Clinic, thymectomy can lessen the symptoms of myasthenia gravis. However, the downside is that it may take months, or even years, before you experience the benefits at all.4

If you’re under the age of 45, with generalized myasthenia gravis but no tumors in the thymus gland, a thymectomy can give you:

A 25 percent chance of a remission

A 50 percent chance of experiencing symptom relief (but will still require therapy and other treatments)

A 25 percent chance of no effect at all

Should you opt for surgery, there are two minimally invasive procedures available:5

Video-assisted thymectomy: In this procedure, a surgeon will make an incision in your neck and insert a video endoscope and instruments to remove the thymus gland. Alternatively, the surgeon may make incisions on the side of your chest and insert the endoscope and the instruments there.

Robot-assisted thymectomy: Similar to video-assisted thymectomy, small incisions will be made on the side of your chest, wherein a robot equipped with a camera and mechanical arms will remove the thymus gland.

Intravenous Procedures for Life-Threatening Situations

In life-threatening cases of myasthenia gravis (difficulty breathing and swallowing), intravenous methods may be required to remove specific antibodies in your system to provide immediate relief. Two intravenous methods commonly used to treat myasthenia gravis include:6

Plasmapheresis

In this procedure, your blood is routed to a machine designed to remove the antibodies that destroy your muscular neurotransmitters. While this can provide positive results, the effects usually last a few weeks only per session, necessitating repeat visits. After multiple sessions, you may need to use a catheter instead, because doctors may have difficulty finding your veins.

While plasmapheresis may help, you must be aware of the side effects. Drops in blood pressure, bleeding, heart rhythm problems and possible allergic reactions have been reported. This procedure is only recommended in life-threatening cases to produce instant relief. It is also expensive and time-consuming.7

Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg)

As the name implies, immunoglobulin will be administered to help decrease the autoimmune antibodies attacking your muscle receptor sites. It is typically given for two to four hours over the course of two to seven days, depending on the need.

Compared to plasmapheresis, IVIg has milder side effects, such as chills, dizziness, headaches and fluid retention. However, the effects can take a week before they are felt. In addition, the procedure can be expensive.8

Medications That Should Be Avoided

During the course of your recovery, you may be prescribed certain medications to help treat your symptoms. However, this is not advised, because there’s a chance that these medications may worsen your condition. The table below shows common medications prescribed when treating myasthenia gravis:9

Telithromycin (Ketek)

Quinine

Fluoroquinolones, such as Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin

Procainamide

Zithromax

Magnesium

Antibiotics such as gentamycin and neomycin

D-penicillamine

Botulinum toxin (Botox)

Beta-blockers

Corticosteroids, such as prednisone

Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine, mycophenolate and cyclosporine

It’s important to be aware of the potential side effects when taking medications to treat your symptoms. Prolonged use of corticosteroids, for example, can cause weight gain, increase your risk of diabetes and thin your bones. Immunosuppressants, on the other hand, can cause vomiting, gastrointestinal problems and damage to your liver and kidneys. They can increase your risk of getting an infection as well.10

If taking any one of these is absolutely necessary due to critical situations, always discuss your prescriptions with your doctor to determine the best choices to minimize possible side effects. In addition, if you need to take an antibiotic, be sure to consume a high-quality probiotic food or supplement a few hours before or after taking the antibiotic. This will help keep your beneficial gut bacteria at an optimal ratio.

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