Healthy News For A Healthy You

Exploring topics on nutrition, safety, legalities, retirement, and more!

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.

Insights on Myasthenia Gravis. Get the Facts!

The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) reports 20/10,000 people in the U.S. as having Myasthenia Gravis (MG). These numbers appear relatively low in comparison to other disease processes, yet in actuality many cases of MG go under-reported. Presenting symptoms relate to those of other health conditions, challenging early diagnosis and prompt interventions. Interested in learning about Myasthenia Gravis? Here are the facts and insights on MG!

What is Myasthenia Gravis? The name Myasthenia Gravis (MG) comes from the Greek word “grave muscular weakness”. As defined by the MGFA, MG is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system produces antibodies, attacking itself. It’s still ambiguous as to why these antibodies mistake healthy cells as “foreign organisms”. MG commonly affects voluntary muscles (muscles you can control) such as those in the face and neck, yet it can also affect respiratory muscles and other muscle groups. MG Is neither contagious nor inherited. As pointed by the MGFA, Myasthenia Gravis affects people of all races, genders, and age.

What causes Myasthenia Gravis? Communication between nerves and muscles are affected at the neuromuscular junction. Damage caused by antibodies prevents proper absorption of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) at the neuromuscular junction, affecting muscle tone and strength.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provide a detailed description to leading to MG sharing the following:

Normally when impulses travel down the nerve, the nerve endings release a neurotransmitter substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels from the neuromuscular junction and binds to acetylcholine receptors which are activated and generate a muscle contraction. In myasthenia gravis, antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, which prevents the muscle contraction from occurring.

What are some common symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis? Symptoms can appear suddenly, and vary in severity from person-to-person. Commonly reported signs and symptoms include dropping of the eyelid (ptosis), changes in vision, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and impaired gait. Some individuals complain of weakness in the neck, upper body, and lower extremities. Difficulty smiling, chewing foods, lifting arms to grab objects, and ambulating are other manifestations of MG. To read more on signs and symptoms of MG visit NINDS.

WebMD recommends individuals to report the following symptoms to their physician:

1. You notice a droopy eyelid or double vision.

2. You have any difficulty chewing or swallowing.

3. You notice intermittent muscle weakness that improves after rest.

4. You already have myasthenia gravis and experience any difficulty breathing.

Who’s more likely to develop Myasthenia Gravis? WebMD notes women between the age of 20 and 40, and men between 50-70 as more likely to develop Myasthenia Gravis.  Newborns can also experience a temporary form of MG known as Neonatal Myasthenia. WebMD points neonatal myasthenia resulting from maternal antibodies, which remain in the infant’s circulation after birth. Once maternal antibodies clear in about a week or so, muscles begin to strengthen. Another cause of MG is thymoma or tumor in the thymus gland. Most thymoma are benign (non-cancerous), but are often removed for prevention of cancer. WebMD attributes thymectomy (removal of the thymus gland) as an influencing treatment option in decreasing symptoms of MG, even for individuals with no present tumor.

How is Myasthenia Gravis diagnosed? MG can be overlooked in the early stages, as muscle weakness can be a common symptom with other diseases and health conditions.

The Process of Diagnosing Myasthenia Gravis with information provided by the NINDS:

1. A review of the individual’s medical history.

2. Physical and neurological examination.

3. Blood tests to determine the levels of antibodies.

4. Electromyography (EMG) that measures muscle cells when stimulated with electrical impulses. In people with MG, muscle cells are not as responsive to repeated electrical stimulation.

5. CT or MRI to detect thymoma.

6. Pulmonary function test (PFTs) to determine respiratory strength.

How is Myasthenia Gravis treated? The treatment goal is to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine receptors and stop the body from attacking it’s own healthy cells. Medications like anticholinesterase enhance neuromuscular transmission increasing muscle strength. Immunosuppressant’s are pharmaceuticals that halt the production of abnormal antibodies attacking healthy cells. The NINDS comments on other treatment options like plasmapheresis or the process of removing abnormal antibodies from the blood, and replacing with I.V. immune globulin containing antibodies from blood donors. Thymectomy – a surgical intervention removing the thymus gland is another treatment option in reducing symptoms of MG.

Why is a Myasthenic Crisis an emergency? A Myasthenic Crisis occurs when respiratory muscles weaken leading to respiratory insufficiency and possible respiratory failure. In such instances mechanical ventilation may be required for a time period to maintain respiratory function. As pointed in, signs of myasthenic crisis include difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, tiredness throughout the day, and difficulty swallowing foods.

How to manage a Myasthenic Crisis?

In a Myasthenic Crisis, the focus is to maintain respiratory function, decreasing aggravating symptoms, and return the individual to a healthy and functional state of being. outlines treatment options and medications given during a myasthenic crisis. Respiratory interventions depend on the needs of the each individual; some examples include endotracheal intubation, BIPAP, and suctioning. In addition to respiratory interventions, anticholinesterase, immunosuppressant, and immune globulins medications are administered to slow the progression of MG. also notes I.V. as a treatment option for maintaining blood pressure, and replacing lost fluids and electrolytes. Plasma exchange or the process of removing plasma and replacing plasma from a donor may also be ordered. For more information on Myasthenic Crisis and treatment options visit


* All information shared in this article should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to incorporating any suggestions. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide advice or direct client decisions.

in Health Hits: 5917

Yeneilyn is a Registered Nurse in the state of Florida since 2006. Her nursing practice began in the field of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Hospital and expanded to care for clients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She was provided the opportunity as LPN Instructor, which changed the course of her nursing career. She states, “Teaching nursing students expanded my view on positive influences nurses contribute beyond beside care. Nurses are central leaders in health education, client advocacy, and disease prevention.” Currently, Yeneilyn writes health articles and prepares Continuing Education (C.E.) courses for healthcare professionals. She continues her studies in the field of Nursing Education and evidenced-based nursing practice. In her free time she enjoys sharing time with family and friends.

For questions or topics of interest contact Nurse Yenny at:    




  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.