For Sufferers and Supporters
For Sufferers and Supporters
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that affects voluntary muscles. Common symptoms can include a drooping eyelid, blurred or double vision, slurred speech, difficulty chewing and swallowing, weakness in the arms and legs, chronic muscle fatigue and difficulty breathing. The weakness tends to increase with continued activity and can be improved with periods of rest. Not everyone will display all symptoms, and symptoms can fluctuate.
We can provide you with general information regarding MG, but you should consult with your doctor if you think you have MG. Request an information packet here.
The goal of MG treatment is to remove antibodies, reduce antibodies, and inhibit the binding of antibodies through the various medications and treatments available. (from Summer 2006 newsletter article by K. Sivakumar, MD)
There is no known cure for MG, but there are effective treatments that allow many people with MG to lead full lives.
Common treatments include medications such as Mestinon® (pyridostigmine), prednisone, Cellcept® (mycophenolate mofetil), Imuran® (azathioprine), cyclosporine, and treatments such as thymectomy, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IvIg) infusions.
Spontaneous improvement and even remission may occur without specific therapy. Rest and a well-balanced diet can help.
There are certain drugs that patients with MG should avoid or only use with caution. You should always discuss these concerns with your doctor or neurologist; make sure these professionals know every drug you are taking, including over-the-counter medications. Your pharmacist may be another good resource.
In some cases, MG may go into remission for a time, during which no treatment is necessary.
The generic form of Mestinon® has been on the market since February 2003 and to our knowledge, no studies have been conducted as to the relative effectiveness of the medication in relation to the brand version. By law the generic medications must have the same active ingredients as the brand name medication; however, the “fillers” or excipients may differ.
Often, the cause of MG contraction is not known for the particular patient. It is possible to contract MG from Penicillamine, which is used to treat Wilson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, other chronic autoimmune diseases, and cystinuria. It is also possible to contract MG by being treated with interferon alpha, or through a bone marrow transplant. (From “Medication and Myasthenia Gravis”).
Researchers are uncertain of the cause of MG, but do not believe that it is hereditary. A genetic predisposition to autoimmune diseases can run in families, but MG is not thought to be directly hereditary.
Researchers are uncertain of the cause of MG, but do not believe that it is contagious.
Approximately 20 out of 100,000 individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed with MG. However, MG is considered under-diagnosed and the prevalence is thought to be much higher.
The most common age at onset is the second and third decades in women and the seventh and eighth decades in men. As the population ages, the average age at onset increases correspondingly; now males are more often affected than females, and the onset of symptoms is usually after age 50.
Researchers are uncertain of the cause of MG, but do not believe that it is hereditary or contagious. A genetic predisposition to autoimmune diseases can run in families, but MG is not thought to be directly hereditary.
There is a 12% to 20% incidence of neonatal myasthenia in infants born to mothers with MG. Neonatal myasthenia is a temporary condition of general weakness in a baby and usually occurs within the first 24 to 48 hours after birth and may last days or weeks. It is usually self-limited, lasting three to five weeks, but occasionally lasts longer.
This partially depends on the nature of your job and your MG, but most MG patients continue working successfully.
MAA cannot provide referrals. In general, we suggest that people see a neurologist who focuses on neuromuscular conditions.
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