About lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome

What is lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

Lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare condition where the patient suffers from muscle weakness, fatigue, and symptoms, like dry mouth. 

Here is a list of some facts about the disease:

  • The term myasthenic means the loss of muscles and muscle weakness.

  • The disease is an autoimmune disease. The immune system of the body attacks its tissues.

  • The attack occurs between the nerves and the muscles of the body. The nerve cells lose the ability to send signals to the muscle cells.

  • The immune system attacks the nerves handling the release of the chemical acetylcholine.

  • The chemical is a messenger that sends trigger messages for muscle contractions.

  • People with lower levels of acetylcholine suffer from muscle weakness.

  • Small cell lung cancer causes Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. The body’s attempt to fight the cancer cells inadvertently makes the immune system attack its nerves.

There are two forms of lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome. Doctors associate one with small lung cancer while the second one has genetic components linked. 

  • Both the forms cause the immune system to make antibodies against the nerves. It ultimately results in its weakening.

  • There are also circumstances when the cause of the disease is unknown.

  • The symptoms include weaknesses in the legs, especially in the upper hips and thighs.

  • One common symptom also includes a dry mouth.

  • They also suffer from walking difficulties. All in all, they struggle to perform day-to-day activities with their upper arms and shoulders.

  • People with a severe condition of LEMS also suffer from autonomic nervous dysfunctions. 



What are the symptoms for lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

The Lambert-eaton Myasthenic Syndrome is a condition that causes the weakening of muscles. 

  • The most common symptom which people suffer from is Fatigue and muscle weakness. The Fatigue worsens when the patient performs physical exercises.

  • The Weakness first occurs in the muscles in the upper legs. Then moderately, it spreads to the upper arms and eventually to hands and feet.

  • These conditions often lead to problems with stair climbing and getting out of a deep chair.

  • These symptoms may be mild to negligible at first. It grows intensely with growing age.

  • These temporary weaknesses often improve after exertion.

  • People with lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome often complain about issues in the autonomic nervous system.

  • The autonomic nervous system is the part that regulates various functions of the body. It controls all vital functions like breathing, digestion, and heart rate. 

  • Symptoms include dry mouth, dry eyes, constipation, Dizziness when standing, and changes in sweating.

  • Some people also experience problems with their eyes. These may include double vision or drooping eyelids.

  • As the condition worsens, people start experiencing Difficulty swallowing food. The symptoms may be mild at first but may escalate with time.

  • Reports tell that people with  lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome disease have no normal reflexes. The doctor checks the symptom by tapping on your knees. 

  • The major symptom of LEMS

  1. Dry Mouth

  2. Metallic taste

  3. Constipation

  4. Weak reflexes

  5. Difficulty in micturition

 

  • The conditions of the disease are

  1. Difficulty in walking and climbing stairs

  2. Difficulty in swallowing

  3. Dizziness

  4. Dry eyes, blurred vision

 

  • Drugs used in the disease

  1. Firdapse

  2. Ruzurgi

  3. Amifampridine



What are the causes for lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome is a condition in which your immune system affects your nerves and muscle connection. 

Causes of the Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome 

  • This body condition is closely connected with a type of cancer which is small cell lung cancer.

  • The efforts of the patient's body to fight cancer can result in causing this syndrome.

  • The syndrome is one of the side effects of your body reacting to the disease. 

  • Cancer patients who suffer from this syndrome tend to be smokers aged 60 or above.

  • Others with the syndrome with no cancer have genetic factors that bring the version of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome into their body.

  • While it is still unknown if this condition follows a specific inheritance pattern in families, there is likely to be a genetic reaction to autoimmune disease.

  • Families with a history of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome are advised to consult with a genetics professional.

  • This type of individual sees the syndrome emerge around the age of 35.

  • In some cases, patients suffer from other autoimmune diseases, followed by Lambert Eaton syndrome.

  • Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome can also be associated with endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism (a disorder in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone).

In the presence of tumours, one can identify another cause of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome.



What are the treatments for lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

Closely associated with cancer, Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome can be treated in a few medical ways. 

  • If a patient suffers from Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome because of the side effects of lung cancer, then the syndrome can be treated alongside the treatment of cancer.

  • Treatment for lung cancer alone can improve the symptoms of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome and relieve the condition. Moreover, it varies with the presence of associated cancer.

  • A new drug, called Firdapse, has been approved by the FDA. This medication has significant benefits as it improves muscle strength. 

  • Mestinon, another treatment, improves the symptoms of autonomic dysfunction to recover from the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. 

  • Since the syndrome affects the nervous system and the muscles, doctors will prescribe you medicines to help improve the connection between the two.

  • To send the nerve signals to the muscles, medicines such as 3,4-diaminopyridine and pyridostigmine are prescribed by the experts.

  • Doctors also advise immunoglobulin therapy. These include injections of antibodies to prevent your immune system from affecting your nerves.

  • These injections are for a temporary purpose. 

  • The treatment also includes a procedure called - 'plasmapheresis.'

  • The procedure redirects your blood through a machine and filters out the antibodies. 

Above mentioned therapy and procedure are recommended for the short term only. The Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome requires medicinal guidance only.



What are the risk factors for lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

While there are causes that increase the possibility of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome, here are some risk factors to look for. Cancer patients, long-term smokers, and older people have high chances of getting Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome.   

  • First and foremost, cancer is one of the causes of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome. Approximately 50% of patients are reported to be cancer patients. Having cancer is a risk factor and identification that a patient may undergo the LEMS.

  • Another risk factor that plays a role in Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome is smoking. Patients with LEMS and a long history of smoking are a major risk and may suffer unbearable losses. 

  • Next in line is the age factor. Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome, too, can be one of the diseases that occur when you reach a certain age. People who cross over 35 years of age with poor health are closer to experiencing the syndrome's symptoms.

  • People who neglect their health conditions and suffer physical illness usually begin to see the syndrome's symptoms.

  • It is recommended to have a yearly wellness check-up to keep track of your health and minor issues. Take care of the minor problems before it escalates to become anything major. 



Is there a cure/medications for lambert-eaton myasthenic syndrome?

The good news is that Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome is not a hereditary disease. Since there is no cure for LEMS, the treatment usually involves improving the quality of life and helping reduce the pain.

 

These include the following:

  • Treatment of LEMS may depend upon the presence of underlying cancer. If cancer is present, treatment usually is directed at cancer, which alone may relieve Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome symptoms.

  • Avoid taking hot showers or baths. Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome may become worse when you're warm.

  • Exercise on a regular basis and get enough sleep to help you manage Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome.

  • Since Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome is often associated with lung cancer, it is advisable not to smoke.

  • Medical practitioners usually prescribe a steroid to reduce the activity of the immune system.

  • Antibodies from donated blood can be injected using immunoglobulin therapy that can temporarily stop your immune system from attacking your nerves.

  • If you have cancer and respond well to treatment like surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, your Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic syndrome is more likely to improve.

  • Plasmapheresis is also an extensively used procedure to redirect the blood through a machine that filters out the antibodies attacking the nerves.

 

The Condition

It is a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the neuromuscular joints. The immune system attacks the body's own tissues causing a suppression of the immune system.

 

Symptoms

  • Some people may experience symptoms like, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, profuse sweating, drooping eyelids and orthostatic hypotension - falls in blood pressure on standing, leading to blackouts.

  •  Other symptoms include, Trouble in breathing, speaking and swallowing, tingling sensation in the hands or feet, muscle weakness and trouble walking.

Drugs

  • If cancer is present, treatment usually is directed at cancer, this alone may result in relief of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome symptoms.

Other drugs include Firdapse (amifampridine) tablets approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



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