Explainer: What is ‘myasthenia gravis’ that Pres. Duterte claims he has?

Explainer: What is ‘myasthenia gravis’ that Pres. Duterte claims he has?

During a speech by President Rodrigo Duterte in Russia, he shared some information about his health.

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KAMI learned that the President claimed he has “myasthenia gravis.”

In a report by GMA News Online, President Duterte pointed out the movements of his eyes.

“Pero ang mata ko –'yung isang mata ko, dito sa mata niya. 'Yung isang mata ko, umiikot kung saan-saan pumupunta,” the President said.

“Ganun ako eh. May talent ako, magtingin ako sa'yo, 'yung isang mata ko bumaba... Actually my –that's myasthenia gravis. It's a nerve malfunction," he added.

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But, what is myasthenia gravis?

According to the US National Institute of Health (NIH), myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. It weakens the skeletal muscles and affects the breathing and movements of some body parts, including the arms and legs.

Aside from those, the muscles controlling the eyes, eyelid movement, facial expression, talking, chewing, and swallowing could be affected.

What are the symptoms of myasthenia gravis?

  • Drooping of one or both eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movements
  • Change in facial expression
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Impaired speech
  • Weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck

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How can it be treated?

According to the health website Mayo Clinic, there is no cure for myasthenia gravis. However, there are treatments that can be done to reduce and improve the muscles.

Thymectomy – The removal of the thymus gland.

Anticholinesterase medications - Medications to treat the disorder include anticholinesterase agents such as mestinon or pyridostigmine.

Immunosuppressive medications – To improve muscle strength by suppressing the production of abnormal antibodies

Plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin - These treatments remove the destructive antibodies

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