Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic, neuromuscular, autoimmune disorder in which communication between nerves and the body’s voluntary muscles is disrupted. Interruption of muscle and nerve communication prevents crucial muscle contractions from occurring resulting in muscle weakness.
During a Myasthenia crisis, the immune system attacks the body’s tissues interrupting communication between the nerves and muscles. Symptoms typically affect the eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs and are characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of the affected body part. Over time a patient can experience symptoms that shift from mild to severe repeatedly, worsening after activity and improving after periods of rest.
Symptoms can include but are not limited to:
Diagnosing Myasthenia Gravis can be difficult because muscle weakness can be a common symptom of many disorders. A complete medical history and description of symptoms are key in the process. Monitoring symptoms and what causes symptoms to develop can be a helpful tool in the process.
During a neurological exam a provider assesses reflexes, muscle tone and strength, response to touch, gait, posture, coordination, and balance. After a complete neurological exam, a provider may order bloodwork to measure for specific antibodies as well as diagnostic testing such as an EMG/NCV and CT scan. For patients whose breathing is affected, pulmonary function tests may also be necessary to measure breathing strength.