MG: What is it?
Myasthenia gravis aka (MG) is an autoimmune disease that weakens the voluntary muscles of the body, such as eye and eyelid movement, facial expressions, chewing, talking, swallowing, arms, legs, neck and occasional breathing. Weakness is brought on with exertion and activity. It’s known as the snowflake disease because no two cases or MG are exactly the same.
What causes it?
MG is caused by a miscommunication between the nerve and muscle. The body’s immune system makes antibodies that prevent the transmission of the nerve signal to the muscle. Think of a lock and key, the antibodies are gum, clogging the lock, prevent the key from fitting. Basically your body is attacking itself and prohibiting normal function. It is not contagious and there is no strong research that indicates MG being genetic.
What are the signs and symptoms?
A person with MG may experience some or all of the following:
- Drooping of one or both eyelids
- Blurred or double vision
- Problems walking
- Weakness in arms, hands, fingers, legs, and neck
- Change in facial expression
- Having a hard time swallowing
- Trouble talking/heavy tongue
- Shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
How do you treat it?
In lucky rare cases, people go into remission or improve without treatment. But for the rest of us, treatment for MG may include medications to improve nerve signals and suppress antibody production (steroids), thymectomy, iVIG or plasmapheresis. Depending on your MG, your doctor will develop a treatment plan tailored to you.
Want more info about MG? Check out the links below:
- American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.
- Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH