Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

By Nurse Diane

Myasthenia Gravis is not a very common condition.  In fact when I tried to find others who had it, the list was short.  One of the more notable people who had it was Aristotle Onassis, Husband of Jackie O.  Christopher Robin Milne also had it, you may recognize his name from the Winnie the Pooh books, as Christopher Robin.

June is the month in which we focus on Myasthenia Gravis.  Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder. Neuromuscular disorders involve the muscles and the nerves that control them.   Myasthenia Gravis affects the skeletal muscles by causing weakness.  The weakness occurs because the nerve that stimulates the muscle isn't functioning properly.  This is called an autoimmune response.  The cause of Myasthenia Gravis is unknown and can affect people at any time, occurring more frequently in young women and older men.  It usually affects the eye muscles first.

The muscle weakness of myasthenia gravis worsens with activity and improves with rest. Weakness in affected muscles may cause:
  • Breathing difficulty because of weakness of the chest wall muscles
  • Chewing or swallowing difficulty, causing frequent gagging, choking, or drooling
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, lifting objects, or rising from a seated position
  • Difficulty talking
  • Drooping head
  • Facial paralysis or weakness of the facial muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness or changing voice
  • Weakness of the eye muscles, causing
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty maintaining steady gaze
  • Eyelid drooping

  • A neurological exam will determine the muscle weakness, other tests include
  • Blood tests
  • CT for possible tumors in the Thalmus
  • Nerve conduction studies


There is no cure for Myasthenia Gravis, so medications my help with nerve conduction to the muscles.  A lifestyle adjustment usually enables continuation of many activities. Activity should be planned to allow scheduled rest periods. An eye patch may be recommended if double vision is bothersome. Stress and excessive heat exposure should be avoided because they can worsen symptoms.

For more information see: http://www.myasthenia.org/
(Images from Google) 

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