The treatment of patients with myasthenia gravis should be individualized according to the extent (ocular versus generalized) and severity (mild to severe) of disease, the presence or absence of concomitant disease (including but not limited to other autoimmune diseases and thymoma), and, to a lesser degree, the age of the patient. Thymectomy should be performed in patients with generalized disease, especially those who have detectable levels of circulating antibodies to acetylcholine receptor (anti-AChR), as it should be in all patients thought to have an operable thymoma (observed on imaging studies of the chest). Symptomatic therapy consists of anticholinesterase drugs (usually pyridostigmine); occasionally, other drugs are required to reduce the muscarinic side effects. At times, patients need immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory therapy with glucocorticoids, azathioprine, cyclospor-ine or cyclophosphamide, plasma exchange, and intravenous immunoglobulin. Remission, whether spontaneous or pharmacologically induced, or significant improvement can be achieved in most patients, but some treatments entail significant side effects and considerable cost.
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