Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis facts*

*Myasthenia gravis facts medical author:

  • Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body.
  • Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles.
  • The thymus may give incorrect instructions to developing immune cells, ultimately resulting in autoimmunity and the production of the acetylcholine receptor antibodies.
  • The symptoms of myasthenia gravis may include eye muscle weakness, eyelid drooping (ptosis), blurry or double vision (diplopia),unstable gait, a change in facial expression, difficulty in swallowing, shortness of breath, impaired speech, and weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck.
  • The disease is not directly inherited nor is it contagious; it commonly affects adult women (under 40) and older men (over 60), but it can occur at any age.
  • Diagnosis is often delayed because muscle weakness is a common symptom in other diseases and may slowly develop; diagnostic tests that help confirm the diagnosis include detecting the presence of immune molecules or acetylcholine receptor antibodies, edrophonium test, and electromyography.
  • Medical treatment includes anticholinesterase agents, plasmapheresis, and various immunosuppressive drugs; surgical treatment may include removal of the thymus.
  • A myasthenic crisis occurs when the muscles that control breathing weaken so much that the patient requires emergency ventilation assistance.
  • The disease prognosis is highly variable; some patients have complete remission (about 50% with thymus surgery), others have relatively normal lives with continued treatment, and others have a poor prognosis as the disease advances.
  • Research is ongoing; new treatment protocols and immunosuppressive drugs are being investigated and therapeutic methods are likely to improve in the future.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/15/2012

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Myasthenia Gravis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with myasthenia gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis Treatment

There are several therapies that can help strengthen the muscles of someone with MG. Most people with MG have good results from treatment. In some people, MG may go into remission for a while and muscle weakness may go away completely. In rare cases, people go into remission or improve without treatment.

SOURCE:
WomensHealth.gov