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Myasthenia Gravis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a long-term disease that causes severe muscle weakness.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Anticholinesterase medicine helps improve energy and strength.
  • Steroid medicine or other immunosuppressives may be given to slow your immune system and the progression of MG.
  • Immune globulin is given as a shot or an IV infusion to help your immune system.

Tests:

  • Blood tests are used to check for abnormal antibodies caused by autoimmune MG.
  • A Tensilon test means IV medicine is given to see if your muscles get stronger after you get the medicine.
  • An ice test checks for improvement in eyelid drooping after your eyelids are covered with ice packs.
  • An electromyography (EMG) test measures the electrical activity of your muscles at rest and with movement.
  • An MRI or CT scan may be used to check for an enlarged thymus gland. You may be given contrast liquid before the pictures are taken to help your thymus show up better in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatment:

  • A swallow or speech therapist may work with you if you have trouble swallowing. He or she can help you learn which foods and liquids are safe to eat and drink. You may be fed by an IV or a nasogastric (NG) tube if your swallowing problems are severe. You may be given thickened liquids and softer (mashed) foods. These are easier to swallow.
  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.
  • Plasmapheresis is a procedure used to remove abnormal antibodies from your blood.
  • Surgery may be done to remove your thymus gland. This may reduce or prevent future symptoms of MG.

RISKS:

Left untreated, MG symptoms can worsen and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe. This is called a myasthenic crisis. It is a serious condition that may become life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Myasthenia Gravis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.