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Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by the varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal muscles (voluntary) of the body.

The principal characteristic of myasthenia gravis is a muscular weakness that increases during periods of activity and decreases after periods of rest. Certain muscles, such as those that control eye and eyelid movements and facial expressions, chewing, speech and swallowing are affected by this disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck movements, and those of the limbs can also be affected.


Myasthenia gravis causes weakness in the voluntary muscles (those that we can control). The autonomic muscles, such as the heart and the digestive tract generally are not affected. The muscle weakness of myasthenia gravis worsens with activity and improves with rest.

Muscle weakness can lead to a variety of symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing due to the weakness of the chest wall muscles
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, causing gagging, choking or frequent grooling
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, picking up objects or getting up from a seated position
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Droopy head and eyelids
  • Facial paralysis or facial muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness or a voice alteration
  • Difficulty focusing or maintaining a steady gaze


There are no known ways to prevent myasthenia gravis although the following measures can improve muscle functions in those patients who already have the disease.

Avoid those medicines that can worsen MG:

  • Beta blockers
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • Quinolone antibiotics
  • Class I antiarrhythmics that are used to treat abnormalities in cardiac rhythm


  • Treat all infections immediately
  • See a doctor right away if you experience difficulty swallowing to plan a healthy diet that includes easy to swallow foods
  • Consult a speech therapist if you have difficulty speaking

Gene or region studied

  • 2q33.2
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