Skip to main content

Managing myasthenia gravis

Personal support for myasthenia gravis.

What is myasthenia gravis?

Myasthenia gravis causes muscle weakness. It is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune condition that can affect anyone at any age. But younger women and older men are most likely to have it. Genetic factors like heredity and race aren’t known factors. This neuromuscular condition can affect muscles like:

  • Muscles that help with breathing and swallowing
  • Facial muscles, including the jaw
  • Eyelids and the area around the eyes
  • Arm or leg muscles

For all types of myasthenia gravis, muscle weakness is often more severe at the end of the day. It can get worse after periods of activity. Muscle weakness can improve after periods of rest. Myasthenia gravis can make it hard to talk or swallow. It can also make it difficult to make facial expressions and breathe.

Treatment for myasthenia gravis

Treatment can help manage myasthenia gravis. But the condition can’t be cured. Treatments to reduce muscle weakness include:

  • Surgery:Removal of the thymus gland in your chest may provide relief by reducing symptoms.
  • Medicine: Anticholinesterase medications like Mestinon and Regonol (generic drug name: pyridostigmine) can help increase strength. Immune globulin – delivered through an IV (intravenously) – can also help.
  • Plasma exchange: In plasma exchange, the parts of your blood attacking your nervous system are removed and replaced.

Support from a HealthPartners nurse

If you or a loved one are living with a condition, we can help you learn how to:

  • Manage your symptoms
  • Prevent complications
  • Stay out of the hospital

Eligible members can receive free telephone help from nurses at HealthPartners. These calls are voluntary and confidential.

Or call us at 952-883-5469 or 800-871-9243. We’re here Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Helpful resources

HealthPartners provides these links as a convenience and for informational purposes. We are not responsible for the content on these sites. Listing them here doesn’t constitute an endorsement. If you have medical or health concerns, talk to your health care professional for advice.

Back to top