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Myasthenia Gravis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Myasthenia Gravis (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Myasthenia gravis, or MG, is a long-term disease that causes severe muscle weakness. It happens when your nerve endings fail to interact properly with your muscles. MG usually affects muscles of the eyes, face, neck, arms, and legs. MG is most common in young women 20 to 30 years of age, and in men 60 to 70 years of age.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

If left untreated, your MG symptoms can worsen and make it difficult for you to swallow or breath. This is called a myasthenic crisis. It is a serious condition that may become life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Eating and swallowing:

Your doctor may ask a swallowing therapist to work with you if you have trouble swallowing. This person has special training to help people learn safer ways to swallow. The swallowing therapist will also help you learn which foods and liquids are safe to eat and drink.

  • You may be fed by an IV or a nasogastric (NG) tube if your swallowing problems are very bad. An NG tube is put in through your nose and goes down into your stomach. The tube may also go directly from the outside of your body into your stomach. This is called a gastrostomy tube.

  • You may be given thickened liquids to drink because they may be easier for you to swallow. A special powder is used to thicken liquids. You may also be able to eat softer (mashed) foods. You may be able to eat what you usually eat when your swallowing gets better.

A ventilator

is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

Medicines:

  • Anticholinesterase medicine: This medicine helps improve energy and strength.

  • Immunosuppressives: Steroid medicine or other immunosuppressive medicine may be given to slow down your immune system and slow the progression of MG.

  • Immune globulins: This is given as a shot or an IV infusion to help your immune system. Each infusion can take 2 to 5 hours.

Tests:

  • Tensilon test: This is a test used to help diagnose MG. IV medicine is given to see if your symptoms improve.

  • Ice test: This is a test that checks for improvement in eyelid drooping after covering your eyelids with ice packs.

  • Electromyography: This is also called an EMG. An EMG is done to test the function of your muscles and the nerves that control them. Electrodes (wires) are placed on the area of muscle being tested. Needles that enter your skin may be attached to the electrodes. The electrical activity of your muscles and nerves is measured by a machine attached to the electrodes. Your muscles are tested at rest and with activity.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your chest. It is done to check for an enlarged thymus gland. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your chest. This test is also used to check for an enlarged thymus gland. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatments:

  • Plasmapheresis: This procedure removes abnormal antibodies from the blood.

  • Surgery: This may be done to remove your thymus gland. This may reduce or prevent future symptoms of MG.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Myasthenia Gravis (Inpatient Care)

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