8 Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Myasthenia, A Severe Muscle Weakness, And Who Is More Likely To Get It

Date May 10, 2018 12:37

Myasthenia gravis, which translates as "severe muscle weakness" from Greek and Latin, is an autoimmune disease characterized by muscle fatigue and loss of muscle control. In myasthenia gravis, the body's immune system produces faulty, destructive antibodies which disrupt communication between nerves and muscles. Myasthenia gravis is not very common; it's estimated that 14 to 20 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. have the disease. Symptoms of myasthenia gravis may come and go. The disease is incurable, but with the right treatment most patients get better.

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Who is more likely to develop myasthenia gravis?

Women younger than 40 and men older than 60 are more likely to develop myasthenia gravis, although the disease may affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, a child born to a mother with myasthenia gravis may develop neonatal myasthenia. In this case, the condition is usually temporary, and the symptoms will clear up within the first few weeks or months of the child's life.

Symptoms of myasthenia gravis

Since myasthenia gravis is a progressive disease, its symptoms usually get worse over time. Symptoms of the disease worsen when the affected muscle (or muscles) is being used, but they subside with the rest.

The condition may manifest in the following symptoms:

  • drooping eyelid (or eyelids);
  • double vision;
  • trouble chewing and swallowing;
  • difficulty speaking;
  • limited range of facial expressions;
  • trouble walking;
  • difficulty picking up and carrying objects;
  • difficulty holding one's head up.

These symptoms range in severity and may subside and then come back.

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Complications of myasthenia gravis

Myasthenic crisis is an uncommon, but potentially life-threatening complication of the disease, and it requires emergency medical help. When someone goes into myasthenic crisis, the muscles responsible for breathing become too weak to perform their function. When that happens, a ventilator is needed to help the person breathe until they can do it on their own.

Also, those affected by myasthenia gravis are more likely to have the following:

  • tumor in the thymus gland (usually benign);
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

If you experience muscle weakness in your face, neck, arms, and legs, and if you have difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, seeing, and breathing, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

These symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions, not just myasthenia gravis, but it's best to get the diagnosis as soon as possible and start treatment early, regardless of the cause of your symptoms.

Source: Mayo Clinic, HealthLine, WebMD

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.