DESCRIPTIONMyasthenia gravis is a disorder of muscles, especially of the face and head, with increasing fatigue and weakness as muscles are used. Muscles, especially around the eyes, mouth and throat, and the extremities are involved. Myasthenia gravis affects adolescents and young adults of both sexes but is more common in females.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to remove a thymus tumor, if present.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSDrooping eyelids.
Loss of normal facial expression.
Weakness of the child's arms and legs.
Difficulty speaking clearly.
Most flare-ups appear after a brief period of normal muscle function, and worsen as the muscle is used.
CAUSESAutoimmune disorder (probably).
Tumor of the thymus (newborns only).
RISK FACTORSMedical history of other autoimmune diseases.
Some cancers, especially thymus and lung cancer.
Being an infant of a mother with myasthenia gravis. Newborns show symptoms in 2 to 3 weeks.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented at present.
Pregnancy often results in temporary improvement.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies of antibodies in the child's blood and electrical muscle tests.
X-rays of the child's chest.
Therapeutic trial of anti-cholinesterase drugs.
Choking from swallowing difficulty.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEThis condition is currently considered incurable. However, the child's symptoms can be relieved or controlled. Worsening may be followed by improvement. Life expectancy is reduced, but your child can usually live many years with the disease.
Scientific research into causes and treatment continues, so there is hope for increasingly effective treatment and cure.
HOME CAREYour child should maintain as normal a life as possible.
MEDICATIONAnti-cholinesterase drugs to restore normal muscle function in the child. Excessive doses may cause weakness.
Cortisone drugs at times when your child's symptoms worsen.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
No restrictions. Your child should remain as active as possible.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of myasthenia gravis.
Your child develops swallowing or breathing difficulty. (You should have emergency medications--anti-cholinesterase drugs--available at all times to use if these symptoms develop.)