Beyond Muscle Weakness

Beyond Muscle Weakness: A Neurologist in Leesburg Explains Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a Latin term which means “grave muscular weakness.” Once you receive this diagnosis from an observant neurologist in Leesburg, a lot of things will suddenly become clear, such as why your jaw muscles get weak and tired while eating, then go back to normal after some rest.

This chronic fluctuation of muscle strength affects around 20 in 100,000 Americans. If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from myasthenia gravis, it’s critical to learn as much as you can about this condition under the guidance of Dr. Sarbjot Dulai, your trusted neurologist in VA.

Defining Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is identified as a neuromuscular disorder. It presents as long-term weakness in the muscles used for movement, also called the skeletal muscles.

It’s considered the most common primary disorder of the body’s neuromuscular transmission according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America. Myasthenia gravis can affect any part of the body, but it most often affects the muscles that control swallowing, eyelids, speaking, facial expressions, and chewing.

Who can be affected?

Myasthenia gravis can affect anyone. The National Institute of Health found that some demographics are at a higher risk, such as men aged 50-70 and women aged 20-40.

A baby whose mother has myasthenia gravis may exhibit neonatal myasthenia, which is temporary but can be life-threatening. It is neither contagious nor inherited.

Causes of Myasthenia Gravis

As a neuromuscular disorder, myasthenia gravis is caused by an autoimmune disorder. This happens when your body starts attacking healthy cells.

To tell the muscles to work, nerves send messages through receptors. A chemical called acetylcholine delivers this message. When this chemical binds to a nerve receptor, that’s when the muscles contract.

People with myasthenia gravis don’t have enough acetylcholine receptors because the immune system attacks, blocks, and destroys acetylcholine receptors.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis

In many cases, the sudden onset of this condition is marked by slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and weakness in the eye muscles. It can also include:

  • • Double or blurred vision
  • • Drooping of eyelids
  • • Changes in facial expressions
  • • Shortness of breath
  • • Swallowing difficulties
  • • Weakness in the fingers, arms, legs, hands, and neck
  • • Impaired speech

Since these symptoms are also present in other diseases, arriving at a correct diagnosis can be difficult. It requires a neurologist in Leesburg, VA who actively works with myasthenia gravis patients.

You will be asked to undergo a complete physical exam, as well as provide a detailed symptom history. Our resident neurologist, Dr. Dulai, will check your reflexes, muscle tone, eye movement, motor functions, and sensation. Other tests may include blood testing for MG-linked antibodies, repetitive nerve simulation test, or CT scans to rule out tumors.

Myasthenia Gravis is Manageable

There is no cure yet for myasthenia gravis. Under the care of Dr. Dulai, you will learn to control immune system activity and manage symptoms to the point where myasthenia gravis no longer holds you back from living a full and meaningful life.

If you start observing myasthenia gravis symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, call for an appointment with a Dulles neurology specialist ASAP. You can reach Neurology Associates at 726-6393 or visit our offices in Dulles and Lansdowne, VA.