Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks itself. In myasthenia gravis, this affects the junctions that transfer messages from the nerve cells to the muscles.

This causes weakness and excessive fatigue in the muscles of the limbs, face, eyes, throat, and in the muscles used for breathing.

Myasthenia gravis can develop at any time between childhood and old age. The majority of those affected at younger ages are female, though men are more likely than women to develop it in later life.

The symptoms of the condition vary dramatically from day to day and from person to person.

  • Getting out of bed or to carrying out simple tasks may become difficult.
  • Smiling or blinking may be affected.
  • In the worst cases breathing may be compromised,.

It is the unpredictability of myasthenia gravis that makes it particularly difficult to live with.

The symptoms of myasthenia gravis can disappear spontaneously, but for most patients it continues for life. Ninety percent of people become free of symptoms with medical treatments, though many of these treatments have unwanted side-effects.

With funding from Muscular Dystrophy UK, researchers are investigating whether a drug used to treat related muscle-wasting conditions might help people affected by myasthenia gravis.

Myasthenia gravis affects between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the UK.

Watch our information video below on what healthcare and support you are entitled to:

Find out more about myasthenia gravis.


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