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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune disease, the hallmark of which is muscle weakness that increases during activity and improves after rest. Muscles of the face are often involved, although muscles controlling breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected. The first noticeable symptoms may be weakness of the eye muscles, difficult swallowing or slurred speech.
As an autoimmune disease, myasthenia gravis involves the body attacking its own tissue as a result of an overproduction of antibodies, in this case, for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. In myasthenia gravis, the body's antibodies block the ability of muscles to receive impulses transmitted through acetylcholine.
The cause of myasthenia gravis is unknown at this time, but symptoms can be controlled and the condition managed so that patients can function normally. Medications are available to improve muscle strength and suppress the abnormal production of antibodies. Surgical removal of the thymus gland may help some patients. With treatment, patients with myasthenia gravis have an excellent outlook for leading normal, or nearly normal, lives.
For assistance in locating a neuromuscular disorder specialist for evaluation of myasthenia gravis, contact our Physician Referral Service, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm at (866) 318-8756.
After hours, you may leave a name and callback number. We will call you back the next business day.
The above number is not for emergencies.
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