Christina Myasthenia Gravis I

Christina Myasthenia Part II

Christina Myasthenia Part III

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles that are under our voluntary control, including the muscles involved with breathing and moving parts of the body, such as the arms and legs. It’s caused by a breakdown in communication between the nerves and muscles. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the central feature of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that worsens after periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. As symptoms usually improve with rest, muscle weakness can come and go. However, the symptoms tend to progress over time, usually reaching their worst within a few years after the onset of the disease. The Mayo Clinic explains, “in myasthenia gravis, your immune system produces antibodies that block or destroy many of your muscles’ receptor sites for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine (as-uh-teel-KOH-leen). With fewer receptor sites available, your muscles receive fewer nerve signals, resulting in weakness.”

Although myasthenia gravis can affect any of the muscles that we control voluntarily, certain muscle groups are more commonly affected than others. In over 50% of people with myasthenia gravis, the first signs and symptoms involve the eyes such as drooping of the eyelids (ptosis) and double vision. For many of these patients, problems with the eyes remain their only symptoms, and they are therefore considered to have ocular myasthenia gravis. Other muscles that are commonly affected are the face, throat, arms, neck and legs.

The onset of the disorder may be sudden, and symptoms often are not immediately recognized as myasthenia gravis. The degree of muscle weakness involved in myasthenia gravis varies greatly among individuals. Mild and moderate cases often go undiagnosed. Fortunately, there are many treatments for myasthenia gravis and given proper treatment, most patients with MG have a near-normal life span.

Myasthenia Gravis may cause the following symptoms:
● Weakness of the eye muscles (called ocular myasthenia)
● Drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis)
● Blurred or double vision (diplopia)
● A change in facial expression
● Difficulty swallowing
● Difficulty chewing
● Shortness of breath
● Impaired speech (dysarthria)
● Hoarse or weak voice
● Weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck (muscles might tighten up and feel tired and achy to compensate for the weakness)
● Sometimes the severe weakness of myasthenia gravis may cause respiratory failure, which
requires immediate emergency medical care.

Click here to watch my story about undiagnosed pain

For more information and support: (Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America) (lists online support groups)