Myasthenia gravis symptoms are a type of autoimmune disorder

Myasthenia gravis symptoms come from a neuromuscular disorder characterized by variable weakness of voluntary muscles, which often improves with rest and worsens with activity. The condition is caused by an abnormal immune response.

In myasthenia gravis, weakness occurs when the nerve impulse to initiate or sustain movement does not adequately reach the muscle cells. This is caused when immune cells target and attack the body's own cells (an autoimmune response). This immune response produces antibodies that attach to affected areas, preventing muscle cells from receiving chemical messages (neurotransmitters) from the nerve cell.

The cause of autoimmune disorders such as myasthenia gravis is unknown. In some cases, myasthenia gravis symptoms may be associated with tumors of the thymus (an organ of the immune system). Patients with myasthenia gavis have a higher risk of having other autoimmune disorders like thyrotoxicosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Myasthenia gravis affects about 3 of every 10,000 people and can affect people at any age. It is most common in young women and older men.

Myasthenia gravis symptoms

  • Double vision
  • Difficulty maintaining steady gaze
  • Eyelid drooping
  • Swallowing difficulty, frequent gagging or choking
  • Weakness or paralysis (may worsen with exertion later in the day)
  • Muscles that function best after rest
  • Drooping head
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Difficulty lifting objects
  • Need to use hands to rise from sitting positions
  • Difficulty talking
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Hoarseness or changing voice
  • Fatigue
  • Facial paralysis
  • Drooling
  • Breathing difficulty

Lifestyle adjustments may enable 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.

Some medications, such as neostigmine or pyridostigmine, improve the communication between the nerve and the muscle.

Prednisone and other medications that suppress the immune response (such as azathioprine or cyclosporine) may be used if myasthenia gravis symptoms are severe and there is inadequate response to other medications.

Plasmapheresis, a technique in which blood plasma containing antibodies against the body is removed from the body and replaced with fluids (donated antibody-free plasma or other intravenous fluids), may reduce symptoms temporarily and is often used to optimize conditions before surgery.

Surgical removal of the thymus (thymectomy) may result in permanent remission or less need for medicines.

There are several medications that may make myasthenia gravis symptoms worse and should be avoided. Therefore, it is always important to check with your doctor about the safety of a medication before taking it.

Crisis situations, where muscle weakness involves the breathing muscles, may occur. These attacks seldom last longer than a few weeks. Hospitalization and assistance with breathing may be required during these attacks. Often plasmapheresis is used situations to help end the crisis.

There is no cure, but long-term remission is possible. There may be minimal restriction on activity in many cases. Patients that only have eye symptoms (ocular myasthenia gravis), may progress to have generalized myasthenia over time.

Pregnancy is possible for a woman with myasthenia gravis symptoms but should be closely supervised. The baby may be temporarily weak and require medications for a few weeks after birth but usually does not develop the disorder.

A healthy lifestyle is encouraged, including good general nutrition. Adequate rest and relaxation can help maintain energy levels. Attempts should be made to avoid fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness to reduce factors that may trigger myasthenia gravis symptoms.

Our suggestion for an appropriate and balanced health supplement to reduce the factors triggering myasthenia gravis symptoms


Please read the Usage Agreement carefully before using this website. If you do not agree to all provisions found in the Usage Agreement then do not use this website. By using this website you are agreeing to the provisions found in the Usage Agreement.

Usage Agreement

footer for myasthenia gravis symptoms page