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Myasthenia Gravis

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal muscles of the body. Skeletal muscles are primarily muscle fibers that contain bands or striations that are connected to bone. Myasthenia gravis causes rapid fatigue and loss of strength upon exertion that improves after rest.

With treatment, individuals with myasthenia gravis can lead normal or nearly normal lives.

Myasthenia gravis is also called MG.

Types of Myasthenia Gravis

There are several types of myasthenia gravis. The types are classified according to which skeletal muscles are affected.

  • Generalized Myasthenia Gravis
    • Characterized by weakness in the trunk, arms, and legs.
  • Ocular Myasthenia Gravis
    • Characterized weakness only in muscles that control eye movement.
  • Congenital Myasthenia Gravis
    • An inherited condition caused by genetic defect, and transient neonatal.
    • Develops shortly after birth and causes generalized symptoms.
  • Transient neonatal Myasthenia Gravis
    • A temporary condition that develops in 10–20% of infants born to mothers who have myasthenia gravis.
    • Caused by circulation of the mother’s antibodies through the placenta.
    • Lasts as long as the mother's antibodies remain in the infant

What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis usually is caused by a malfunction of the immune system.

Complications of Myasthenia Gravis

If left untreated, myasthenia gravis may affect muscles that control breathing, causing acute respiratory failure.

Can Myasthenia Gravis be treated?

Treatments for myasthenia gravis are aimed at treating symptoms and controlling the disease. Some common treatments are:

  • Medications to improve neuromuscular transmission and increase muscle strength
  • Medications to suppress the production of abnormal antibodies
  • Surgical removal of the thymus gland (helps rebalance the immune system)
  • Plasmapheresis (a procedure in which abnormal antibodies are removed from the blood)
  • High-dose intravenous immune globulin (temporarily modifies the immune system and provides the body with normal antibodies from donated blood).

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