Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder in which antibodies attack the junction between muscle and the nerves that send information from the muscle to the brain.
Overview and Symptoms
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder, which means that the illness is caused by the malfunctioning body’s own defense system. Antibodies, the proteins that are supposed to fight against infection, instead attack the junction between muscle and the nerves that send information from the muscle to the brain. MG is the most common disease that affects this neuromuscular junction. It happens most often in women under the age of 40 and men over the age of 60. Weakness of the eye muscles is the first symptom of MG in two out of three patients.
Symptoms of MG include:
- Muscle weakness that gets worse with physical activity or gets worse towards the day’s end
- Drooping of one or both eyelids
- Double vision
- Weakness of the face, mouth, and tongue muscles
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty holding the head upright
Diagnosis involves a full range of testing at a doctor’s office to rule out other neuromuscular disorders. There will also be specialized tests for the neuromuscular junction such as single fiber EMG, and lab testing for the antibodies that are involved in MG.
Treatment at BIDMC
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a complex and chronic neuromuscular disorder, but with proper treatment, the disease has a relatively small impact on most patients’ lives. There are a number of effective treatment options for MG, including medication and, in some cases, surgery.
At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), we offer leading-edge care for MG. Our dedicated Neuromuscular team works with teams from other specialties such as infusion medicine and cardiothoracic surgery to help our patients find a solution that works for them. We are actively involved in research seeking innovative therapies to improve the lives of patients with MG.