Frequently Asked Questions
What is myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a disorder that causes weakening in specific muscles.
These consist of:
The term "ocular myasthenia gravis" is used by doctors when MG only affects the muscles in the eyelids and around the eyes.
This kind is seen in about 50% of MG patients.
Leg or arm muscles
Antibodies, which the immune system typically produces, aid in preventing infection. However, in those who have MG, the immune system unintentionally produces certain antibodies that target the connections between muscles and neurons.
What are the symptoms of MG?
The main symptom is muscle weakness. It can come and go, and is often worse later in the day. It can cause:
Blurry vision or double vision
Trouble chewing food
Head that feels heavy or drops forward
What tests do I need?
Blood tests to look for certain antibodies (Acetylcholine Receptor antibody, Anti-MuSK antibody etc.).
Electrical tests of nerves and muscles:
Repetitive Nerve Stimulation test from affected muscles
Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans
CT/MRI of Chest to look for thymus gland (part of the immune system) tumor or hyperplasia
CT scan or MRI of the head to rule out mimickers
How is MG treated?
Pyridostigmine for muscle weakness
Immunomodulators like prednisone and azathioprine.
Fast-acting immune system treatments, such as:
IV immunoglobulin (IVIg)
Surgery to remove the thymus gland
If MG attacks the muscles that help with breathing, they are usually treated in the intensive care unit (ICU)
Children with MG can take some of the same medicines as adults. Surgery to remove the thymus gland is safe for children and often works well
What if somebody wants to get pregnant?
Talk to your doctor or nurse before you start trying to have a baby. Pregnancy can make MG worse.
It is especially important to get the flu shot every year and the pneumonia vaccine at least 1 time.
Some medicines can make MG worse so If you get a prescription for a new medicine, consult your doctor.
Lekhjung Thapa, MD, DM