Myasthenia Gravis

Get Email Updates

Myasthenia Gravis Guide

Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means "grave muscle weakness." With current therapies, however, most cases of myasthenia gravis are not as "grave" as the name implies. In fact, for the majority of individuals with myasthenia gravis, life expectancy is not lessened by the disorder.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/myasthenia_gravis/detail_myasthenia_g...)

The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that increases during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often, but not always, involved in the disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected.

Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. It occurs when normal communication between the nerve and muscle is interrupted at the neuromuscular junction - the place where nerve cells connect with the muscles they control. Normally when impulses travel down the nerve, the nerve endings release a neurotransmitter substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels through the neuromuscular junction and binds to acetylcholine receptors which are activated and generate a muscle contraction.

In myasthenia gravis, antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction which prevents the muscle contraction from occurring. Individuals with seronegative myasthenia gravis have no antibodies at all to receptors for acetylcholine and muscle-specific kinase, which is involved in cell signaling and the formation of the neuromuscular junction. These antibodies are produced by the body's own immune system. Thus, myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease because the immune system - which normally protects the body from foreign organisms - mistakenly attacks itself.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

Improved

1547 Health

Changed

572 Lives

Saved

427 Lives
0 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Does the thought of doing your taxes stress you out?:
View Results