Myasthenia gravis is painless muscle weakness that fatigues - in other words the muscles weaken more rapidly on use than is normal. In addition, the symptoms typically worsen towards the end of the day and after exercise. Myasthenia gravis affects about one person in every 10,000 in the UK. The disorder can start at any age from childhood onwards and the chance of developing it increases with age. In the younger age group, women are affected about twice as often as men are. However, in later life it is commoner in men than women. The prognosis of myasthenia gravis is good. Using the array of therapies that are now available, more than 90 percent of patients return to near-normal function.

Between patients, the disease varies widely in severity and pattern of progression. In the early stages, the weakness can be intermittent. Often the first sign is drooping of the eyelids or double vision. About 15 percent of patients only ever have eye muscle weakness – this is called ocular myasthenia. The others also have more widespread weakness - generalized myasthenia. These patients can develop weakness of the face, swallowing, and chewing muscles, slurring of speech, and weakness of the limbs and neck. In severe cases, weakness of the breathing muscles can occur. Problems with swallowing or coughing can cause choking. Chronic fatigue without weakness is not a feature of myasthenia.

• - Myasthenia Gravis association provides support and information




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