What is myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis (my-us-THEE-nee-uh GRAY-vis) is a chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes muscles to become weak and quickly fatigued. Myasthenia gravis (MG) affects muscles that control the eyes, mouth, throat, arms and legs. It can cause problems with swallowing and breathing. These symptoms occur because of the breakdown in normal communication between muscles and nerves.
MG can affect men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and of all ages. Early diagnosis and treatment can help control symptoms, improve quality of life, and provide a normal life expectancy. MG diagnosis is often missed or delayed because other conditions have similar symptoms.
Relatively rare, an estimated 20 people in 100,000 will develop MG. However, that number is probably much higher because MG is underdiagnosed. More women used to be affected, compared to men, but that is changing. As the United States population ages, the average age at onset continues to increase. Men are now more likely to develop MG than women.