A Guide To Myasthenia Gravis

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What is Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic disorder characterized by rapid fatigue and muscle weakness in certain muscles under voluntary control. It is caused by disordered communication between muscles and nerves.

Myasthenia gravis can develop in people of any age. It is most common in women before age 40 and men over age 60. Symptoms tend to progress over time, reaching their worst within a few years of diagnosis.

It is very rare, but possible, for children born to mothers with myasthenia gravis to have the condition. Treatment in infancy can be far more effective than in adults, and the condition may subside completely.

Myasthenia Gravis Symptoms and Associated Conditions

Muscle weakness is the main symptom of myasthenia gravis. Myasthenia gravis symptoms worsen as the affected muscles are used and improve with rest. Symptoms in some areas are more common than others.

Areas commonly affected by myasthenia gravis include:

  • Eye muscles
  • Facial and throat muscles
  • Neck and limb muscles

The symptoms of myasthenia gravis can differ greatly: For example, eyelid drooping and double vision are common in those with affected eye muscles. Difficulty speaking and chewing can develop in facial muscles.

Although symptoms vary, about half of all myasthenia gravis patients first experience problems with eye muscles. Eyelid drooping and double vision with no obvious cause should be explored as potential signs of this disorder’s onset. In rare cases, breathing problems can develop.

Myasthenia gravis patients should also be screened for an under-active or overactive thyroid.

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Myasthenia Gravis Medication and Treatments

Myasthenia gravis is generally caused by immune system overproduction of antibodies that interfere with the muscle receptors that interpret nerve signals. In cases like these, immunomodulating medication can reduce symptoms by lowering the quantity of antibodies.

A special category of myasthenia gravis medication is known as cholinesterase inhibitors. These do not affect the immune system, but instead enhance communication between nerves and muscles. Although they are not a myasthenia gravis cure, they can greatly improve quality of life in some patients.

In the event of a sudden worsening of symptoms, intravenous therapy is used for faster relief. It is also used prior to surgery. Myasthenia gravis surgery may be recommended for those who have developed a thymus gland tumor due to the condition. In the most severe cases, the thymus can be removed.

Myasthenia Gravis Recovery and Lifestyle Changes

Factors that can worsen myasthenia gravis include certain medications, pregnancy, menstrual periods, stress, fatigue, and illness. Patients should be alert to these and other personal symptom triggers. In addition to taking all medication as directed, it is important for myasthenia gravis patients to plan for periodic rest during physical activity and, if needed, request appropriate accommodations at work.

Myasthenia Gravis Medical Research

Medical research on myasthenia gravis typically focuses on the role of the immune system. Recent myasthenia gravis clinical trials have tested new immunosuppressant medication and identified genes that may help explain unhealthy function of the thymus, a gland in the chest that supports immune activity.

Current Myasthenia Gravis Clinical Trials

The following list includes all active myasthenia gravis clinical studies registered with ClinicalTrials.gov. To feature your myasthenia gravis clinical research on our list, contact our team.


About 20 within every 100,000 Americans are affected by myasthenia gravis, making it the most common primary disorder of neuromuscular transmission. A myasthenia gravis cure may still be years away. Myasthenia gravis clinical studies accelerate the process and help develop the new myasthenia gravis medications that improve patient quality of life. Research is the best hope for a world without myasthenia gravis.

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