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NORD is very grateful to Henry J. Kaminski, MD, Professor of Neurology, Chairman, Department of Neurology & Psychiatry, Saint Louis University, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
Synonyms of Myasthenia Gravis
- congenital myasthenia
- familial infantile (congenital) myasthenia gravis
- generalized myasthenia gravis
- ocular myasthenia gravis
- transient neonatal myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder primarily characterized by muscle weakness and muscle fatigue. Although the disorder usually becomes apparent during adulthood, symptom onset may occur at any age. The condition may be restricted to certain muscle groups, particularly those of the eyes (ocular myasthenia gravis), or may become more generalized (generalized myasthenia gravis), involving multiple muscle groups.
Most individuals with myasthenia gravis develop weakness and drooping of the eyelids (ptosis); weakness of eye muscles, resulting in double vision (diplopia); and excessive muscle fatigue following activity. Additional features commonly include weakness of facial muscles; impaired articulation of speech (dysarthria); difficulties chewing and swallowing (dysphagia); and weakness of the upper arms and legs (proximal limb weakness). In addition, in about 10 percent of cases, affected individuals may develop potentially life-threatening complications due to severe involvement of muscles used during breathing (myasthenic crisis).
Myasthenia gravis results from an abnormal immune reaction in which the body's natural immune defenses (i.e., antibodies) inappropriately attack and gradually destroy certain receptors in muscles that receive nerve impulses (antibody-mediated autoimmune response).
Organizations related to Myasthenia Gravis
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