Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular and autoimmune disorder characterized by fatigue and weakness of the skeletal muscles, otherwise known as voluntary muscles. Muscle weakness occurs because there is a blockade in the normal communication between nerves and muscles. The autoimmune attack occurs when the body forms antibodies against the nicotinic acetylcholine postsynaptic receptors located at the neuromuscular junction. It is relatively a rare condition.
Even though myasthenia gravis can affect anyone at any age, it is usually diagnosed among women in the third decade of life, or men over the age of 60 years. Warm weather, emotional stress, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, drugs that affect neuromuscular transmission, infections, immunization, or surgery can make myasthenia gravis symptoms worse.
Myasthenia gravis has no cure. However, treatment can help relieve its signs and symptoms. Common myasthenia gravis symptoms include:
Symptom #1: Ptosis
Ptosis or drooping of the eyelid is a common myasthenia gravis symptom, thus it can be present on more than 75 percent of patients. This is perhaps the very first sign of this chronic neuromuscular disorder because the levator palpebrae superioris muscle is affected. Ptosis can progress from mild to severe over a period of weeks to months.
Ptosis can be either unilateral or bilateral, and is usually asymmetric. The drooping of the eyelid may not be always visible, unless muscle weakness is provoked by sustained use of the muscles involved. Ocular symptoms of myasthenia gravis often tend to come and go, appearing more often when the person is exposed to triggering stimuli. Patients with Myasthenia gravis typically report no ptosis in the morning and almost complete closing of the eyes at night.