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Myasthenia gravis – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by

Myasthenia gravis is a long-term autoimmune condition marked by progressive muscle weakness without atrophy or sensory disturbance. The immune system damages the communication system between the nerves and muscles, making the muscles weak and easily tired.

It can affect most parts of the body, but it commonly affects facial muscles, particularly the ones controlling the eyes and eyelids, and the ones for chewing, swallowing and speaking.

It can occur to people of any age, typically starting in women under 40 and men over 60.

Myasthenia gravis has been linked to issues with the thymus gland. Affected individuals usually have a larger thymus gland and sometimes there is abnormal growth of the thymus called a thymoma.


Known symptoms, risk factors for myasthenia gravis

Common symptoms of myasthenia gravis include:

  • Droopy eyelids
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Problems with chewing and difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak arms, legs or neck

The symptoms tend to get worse when you’re tired. Many people find they are worse towards the end of the day, and better the next morning after getting some sleep.

The following factors may trigger or worsen the symptoms:

  • Warm weather
  • Surgery
  • Immunization
  • Emotional stress
  • Menstruation
  • Viral infection
  • Tapering of immunosuppression
  • Pregnancy and postpartum period
  • Worsening of chronic medical illnesses (cardiac, renal, autoimmune, etc.)
  • Medication

Body systems harmed by myasthenia gravis

One of the most dangerous potential complications of myasthenia gravis is myasthenic crisis, which is a life-threatening complication marked by muscle weakness with breathing problems. Myasthenia gravis can also lead to a greater risk of developing other autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent myasthenia gravis

Dietary changes and specific rest and active periods may help manage the symptoms, as well as certain supplements including manganese and CoQ10 which serve as effective treatments for the disease.

Treatments, management plans for myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder; thus, the available treatments help regulate the symptoms and control the activity of your immune system. These include:

  • Medication – Corticosteroids and immunosuppressants can be used to suppress immune system activity to help minimize the abnormal immune response that occurs in this disorder.
  • Thymus gland removal – Removal of the thymus gland, which is part of the immune system, may be appropriate for many patients with myasthenia gravis. Once the thymus is removed, patients typically show less muscle weakness.
  • Plasma exchange – This process removes harmful antibodies from the blood, which may help improve muscle strength. However, the body continues to produce the harmful antibodies and weakness may recur. This treatment is helpful before surgery or during times of extreme weakness.
  • Intravenous immune globulin – Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) is blood product that comes from donors. It’s used to treat autoimmune myasthenia gravis.

There are some things you can do at home to help alleviate symptoms of myasthenia gravis:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid stress and heat exposure

These treatments can’t cure this condition, but can help alleviate the symptoms. Some individuals may go into remission, during which treatment is not necessary.

Where to learn more


Myasthenia gravis is a long-term autoimmune condition that causes progressive muscle weakness. It commonly affects muscles that control the eyes and eyelids, and the ones for chewing, swallowing and speaking.

In this condition, the immune system damages the communication system between the nerves and muscles, making the muscles weak and easily tired.

Sources include:


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