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All about myasthenia gravis causes of myasthenia gravis risk factors for myasthenia gravis thymus gland signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis diagnosis of myasthenia gravis myasthenia gravis treatment myasthenic crisis myasthenia gravis and pregnancy prognosis of myasthenia gravis

What're the signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis?

Although myasthenia gravis may affect any voluntary muscle, muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, and swallowing are most frequently affected. The onset of the disorder may be sudden. Symptoms often are not immediately recognized as myasthenia gravis.

In most cases, the first noticeable symptom is weakness of the eye muscles. In others, difficulty in swallowing and slurred speech may be the first signs. The degree of muscle weakness involved in myasthenia gravis varies greatly among patients, ranging from a localized form, limited to eye muscles (ocular myasthenia), to a severe or generalized form in which many muscles - sometimes including those that control breathing - are affected. Symptoms, which vary in type and severity, may include a drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis), blurred or double vision (diplopia) due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movements, unstable or waddling gait, weakness in arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck, a change in facial expression, difficulty in swallowing and shortness of breath, and impaired speech (dysarthria).

Symptoms of myasthenia gravis become worse upon exertion, and better with rest. Heat, including heat from the sun, hot showers, and hot drinks, may increase weakness. Infection and stress may worsen symptoms. Symptoms may vary from day to day and month to month, with intervals of no weakness interspersed with a progressive decline in strength.

"Myasthenic crisis" may occur, in which the breathing muscles become too weak to provide adequate respiration. Symptoms include weak and shallow breathing, shortness of breath, pale or bluish skin color, and a racing heart. Myasthenic crisis is an emergency condition requiring immediate treatment. In patients treated with anticholinesterase agents, myasthenic crisis must be differentiated from cholinergic crisis related to overmedication.

Pregnancy worsens myasthenia gravis in about one third of women, has no effect in one third, and improves symptoms in another third. About 12% of infants born to women with myasthenia gravis have "neonatal myasthenia," a temporary but potentially life-threatening condition. It is caused by the transfer of maternal antibodies into the fetal circulation just before birth. Symptoms include weakness, floppiness, feeble cry, and difficulty feeding. The infant may have difficulty breathing, requiring the use of a ventilator. Neonatal myasthenia usually clears up within a month.

More information on myasthenia gravis

What is myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is a disorder of neuromuscular function due to the presence of antibodies to acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction.
What causes myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. Deficiency of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junctions causes myasthenia gravis.
What're the risk factors for myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis commonly affects young adult women and older men. Myasthenia gravis may be associated with other autoimmune diseases.
What's the role of the thymus gland? - The thymus gland plays an important role in the development of the immune system in early life. In most adults with myasthenia gravis, the thymus gland is abnormal.
What're the signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis? - Symptoms of myasthenia gravis include fatigue and exhaustion of the muscular system with a tendency to fluctuate in severity without sensory disturbance or atrophy.
How is myasthenia gravis diagnosed? - Myasthenia gravis is often diagnosed accurately by a careful medical history and a neuromuscular exam, but several tests are used to confirm the diagnosis.
What's the treatment for myasthenia gravis? - The treatment of myasthenia gravis depends on several factors, including age, overall health, severity of disease, and rate of disease progression.
What's a myasthenic crisis? - A myasthenic crisis occurs when weakness affects the muscles that control breathing. Plasma exchange may be performed to treat myasthenic crisis.
Does myasthenia gravis affect pregnancy? - Pregnant women with myasthenia gravis often have more weakness and fatigue because of the added weight and effort of pregnancy.
What's the prognosis of myasthenia gravis? - Myasthenia gravis is a chronic disease. With treatment, patients with myasthenia gravis will have significant improvement of their muscle weakness.
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