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What is Myasthenia Gravis?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is "a chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles that worsens after periods of activity and improves after periods of rest."

The actual name, myasthenia gravis, is derived from Latin and Greek origins. It means, "grave, muscle weakness." Although there is currently no known cure, there are many treatment options available that can ameliorate the symptoms that characterize MG.

What is the prognosis for people living with MG?

When properly treated, MG patients can expect major improvements in muscle weakness over time. There are various treatment options available for MG patients to explore with their care team, many of which can significantly relieve the symptoms that characterize this disease. Some individuals with MG may even go into temporary or permanent remission as a result of having the thymectomy procedure. The outlook for those living with MG is positive, and with continued treatments and lifestyle adaptations, MG patients can manage their disease appropriately. 

A Closer Look at Myasthenia Gravis

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Treating MG

To better understand myasthenia gravis in detail, please refer to the fact page of myasthenia gravis on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website or check out our directory of resources that list other national organizations that further break down myasthenia gravis.

Myasthenia Gravis

MG Symptoms

A doctor may perform or order several tests to confirm the diagnosis of MG:

  • A physical and neurological examination
  • An edrophonium test 
  • A blood test
  • Electrodiagnostic
  • Diagnostic imaging

    *Diagnosing a patient with MG can take some time (months to years), as weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of other disorders. Depending on the severity of the weakness or where the weakness is centralized in the body, this can also delay the diagnosis.

    • Anticholinesterase medications​
    • Immunosuppressive drugs
    • Plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin
    • Thymectomy
    • Monoclonal antibody

    *Treatment for MG patients varies from person to person. Treatment plans are formulated based on a physician's assessment of a patient's MG and their response to certain treatment options. Not everyone's treatment plan will look the same, therefore, it is important to maintain communication with your healthcare provider to ensure your MG will be treated effectively.

    *The following information is sourced from National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke​ and adapted for brevity.

    People with myasthenia gravis may experience any of the following symptoms:

    • a change in facial expression such as an asymmetric smile
    • difficulty chewing and swallowing
    • impaired speech (dysarthria)
    • shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
    • weakness in:
      • the hands and fingers
      • the arms
      • the legs
      • the neck
      • the eye muscles
    • drooping of one or both eyelids (ptosis)
    • blurred or double vision (diplopia)

    The degree of muscle weakness in myasthenia gravis is dependent upon the individual. Some people with MG have very severe muscle weakness while others may have minor muscle weakness. Additionally, people with MG may experience only a few of the above symptoms while others may experience all of the above symptoms.

    *MG is considered a "snowflake" disease, because like a snowflake, MG can look different for every person.

    Diagnosing MG

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