Myasthenia gravis is a disease that causes weakness in your voluntary muscles. These are the muscles that you control. For example, you may have weakness in the muscles for eye movement, facial expressions, and swallowing. You can also have weakness in other muscles. This weakness gets worse with activity, and better with rest.

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease. Your body's immune system makes antibodies that block or change some of the nerve signals to your muscles. This makes your muscles weaker.

Other conditions can cause muscle weakness, so myasthenia gravis can be hard to diagnose. Tests used to make a diagnosis include blood, nerve, muscle, and imaging tests.

With treatment, the muscle weakness often gets much better. Medicines can help improve nerve-to-muscle messages and make muscles stronger. Other drugs keep your body from making so many abnormal antibodies. These medicines can have major side effects, so they should be used carefully. There are also treatments which filter abnormal antibodies from the blood or add healthy antibodies from donated blood. Sometimes, surgery to take out the thymus gland helps.

Some people with myasthenia gravis go into remission. This means that they do not have symptoms. The remission is usually temporary, but sometimes it can be permanent.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis

The following features are indicative of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • muscle weakness
  • drooping of one or both eyelids
  • double vision
  • altered speaking
  • difficulty swallowing
  • problems chewing
  • limited facial expressions
It is possible that Myasthenia Gravis shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Myasthenia Gravis

The following are the most common causes of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • antibodies blocking acetylcholine or the muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase
  • abnormally large thymus
  • tumors of the thymus
  • genetic factors
  • fatigue
  • illness

Other Causes of Myasthenia Gravis

The following are the less common causes of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • stress

Prevention of Myasthenia Gravis

No, it is not possible to prevent Myasthenia Gravis.
  • genetic factor

Occurrence of Myasthenia Gravis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Myasthenia Gravis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Myasthenia Gravis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Myasthenia Gravis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Myasthenia Gravis:
  • Neurological examination: To evaluate the neurological health and confirm the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis
  • Edrophonium test: Improves the muscle strength
  • Ice pack test: To assess the droopy eyelid for signs of improvement
  • Blood test: To determine the presence of abnormal antibodies that disrupt the receptor sites
  • Pulmonary function tests: To evaluate whether your condition is affecting your breathing
  • Imaging scans: To check the abnormality in your thymus
  • Repetitive nerve stimulation: To measure the nerve's ability to send a signal to your muscle
  • Single-fiber electromyography: To calculate the electrical activity traveling between your brain and your muscle

Doctor for Diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • Surgeons
  • Hematologists
  • Neurologists

Complications of Myasthenia Gravis if untreated

Yes, Myasthenia Gravis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Myasthenia Gravis is left untreated:
  • myasthenic crisis
  • thymus tumors
  • underactive or overactive thyroid
  • autoimmune conditions

Procedures for Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis

The following procedures are used to treat Myasthenia Gravis:
  • Video-assisted thymectomy: To remove the thymus gland through small incisions
  • Robot-assisted thymectomy: To remove the thymus gland using a robotic system
  • Plasmapheresis: To remove the antibodies that block transmission of signals from your nerve endings to your muscles' receptor sites

Self-care for Myasthenia Gravis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • Adjust your eating routine: Improves the muscle strength
  • Use safety precautions at home: Helps in preventing myasthenia gravis
  • Use electric appliances and power tools: Helps in conserving energy
  • Wear an eye patch: Relieves the problem

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Myasthenia Gravis:
  • Physical therapy: Improves range of motion and maintain muscle strength

Patient Support for Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis

The following actions may help Myasthenia Gravis patients:
  • Join support group: Beneficial for you and your family members in understanding the condition that you are going through
  • Find someone to talk with: Discuss feelings with a friend or family member makes you feel comfortable

Time for Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Myasthenia Gravis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Myasthenia Gravis.

Related Topics

Muscle Disorders

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