Diseases that cause muscle weakness through out the body can be debilitating. Not having normal control over your body can be quite scary as well as painful. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and myasthenia gravis are two neuromuscular diseases that affect people all over the world. Their symptoms are life changing. Each is unique in it’s own way, let’s explore more on how.
What Is Myasthenia Gravis?
1. What Is It?
Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disease that causes muscles in the body to become tired very quickly. The weakness and fatigues fluctuates very quickly, sometimes just a few minutes. This problem is caused by a fault in the way nerves communicate with the muscles.
Myasthenia gravis has many different symptoms depending on what muscle group is being affected. Often the face and throat muscles are the first to begin showing symptoms. The most common are difficulty swallowing, problems chewing, a change in speech, and a limited range of facial expressions. In the eye muscles the eyelids may droop and double vision may be experienced. The neck and limb muscles are also affected by this disease. It causes weakness in your legs, arms, hands, and feet as well as trouble holding your head up due to a weakness in the neck muscles.
The cause of Myasthenia gravis s a problem with the nerves that communicate to your muscles. They do this by releasing chemicals that fit into specific receptors on the muscle. With this disease your immune system produces chemicals that destroy these receptors on the muscles which cause fever nerve signals to be received. Some factors can cause Myasthenia gravis symptoms to become worse. These include stress, extreme heat, illness, and some medications such as antibiotics and beta blockers.
Some complications with this disease do exist. Tumors developing in the Thymus are among one of the most common. The thymus is a gland underneath the breast bone and involve the immune system. Thyroid and autoimmune conditions are also more likely to develop in a person with Myasthenia gravis. The largest complication that can occur is a myasthenic crisis. This is a life threatening medical emergency that happens when the muscles that control breathing become too weak to perform their job normally.
No single treatment is used for Myasthenia gravis, but a combination of medications in order to help relieve some symptoms. Coricosteroids may be used in order to limit the amount of antibodies the immune system produces. Immunosuppressants are also commonly used to alter the immune system. Other blood filtering therapies are sometimes used.
All About ALS
1. The Basics
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a chronic disease that causes nerve cells in the brain to slowly die. The nerve cells that are killed are called motor neurons and control the muscles th at allow you to move your body. People suffering from ALS slowly become increasingly disabled as the disease progresses.
The symptoms of ALS are often so minor that they are overlooked until progression of the disease occurs. Some of the common symptoms to look out for are twitching of muscles, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking loudly, muscle weakness in the hands, arms or legs. Muscle weakness is the biggest sign of ALS. Hands and feet are usually affected first followed by the arms and legs. As the disease progresses the muscles responsible for breathing eventually weaken and permanent life support is needed for survival.
The cause of ALS still remains completely unknown. There have been no links to any existing disease or previous illnesses. One out of ten times ALS may run in families but 90 percent of people with ALS have no family members with the disease.
The treatment used for ALS changes over time as the disease gets worse. Physical therapy is usually the first step in order to strengthen the muscles to slow the progression of weakness. Certain medicines may also be used in order to relieve some symptoms, such as pain and muscle stiffness. Feeding tubes and breathing devices will eventually be needed. ALS will result in death.
The prognosis for patients with ALS is not very good. Majority of people die from respiratory failure within 3 to five years from the beginning of symptoms. Ten percent of people survive for ten or more years.
Differences Between Myasthenia Gravis and ALS
The severity of both of these muscular disease are very different. While myasthenia gravis can turn into a life threatening situation it is not a guarantee. ALS however always ends the same way, in respiratory failure and death.
2. How Long Symptoms Last
ALS, unlike myasthenia gravis, causes muscle weakness that do not go away. Once the muscles have been affected they do not regain their strength. Myasthenia gravis related muscle weakness often goes away within a few hours.
The treatments that are available for myasthenia gravis have been proven to be very effective in relief of symptoms the disease causes. With ALS the treatments are very minor, and usually are focused on relief of pain instead of actual muscle weaknesses.
People that have been diagnosed with ALS often only have a few years to live as the disease continues to spread throughout their body. With Myasthenia gravis the life span is much longer, and the disease itself does not result in death.