Donate to Myasthenia Gravis Research, Patient Care and Education

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes weakness of the skeletal muscles in the body. In people with myasthenia gravis, antibodies in the body attack normal receptors on the muscles which results in the blocking of chemicals needed to stimulate muscle contraction. Any voluntary muscle can be affected by myasthenia gravis, including the muscles that control the eyes, eyelids, facial expressions, talking, swallowing and chewing. Myasthenia gravis is not a genetic disorder and typically occurs later in life. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, but it can occur in people of all genders, ages, and races.

Physicians at Northwestern Medicine excel at recognizing symptoms and at developing individualized treatment plans for patients affected by myasthenia gravis. By making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help this essential work to continue, and you will be a source of support for care providers and patients alike.

Symptoms of myasthenia gravis may come on suddenly. The earliest and most prominent symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred or impaired speech
  • Eye muscle weakness
  • Drooping of the eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Change in facial expression
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness in arms, legs or extremities

For people with myasthenia gravis, common activities like eating, walking, or keeping one’s eyes open can present daily challenges. Scientists at Northwestern Medicine are still trying to understand the cause of this disorder. It is currently believed that the disease is related to abnormal development of the thymus gland. Throughout the aging process, a healthy thymus gland gradually grows smaller and eventually turns into fat. In adults with myasthenia gravis however, the thymus gland retains its size and therefore sends incorrect instructions to developing immune cells. These immune cells lead to the creation of antibodies resulting in an immune disorder. There is still much to learn about the complexities of this disease.

Treatment options vary, depending on the muscle groups affected, age of the individual, and severity of symptoms. Medications such as anticholinesterase and immunosuppressive drugs are commonly used to combat symptoms. More invasive therapies such as plasmapheresis attempt to repair the immune system by replacing abnormal antibodies in the blood serum with high-dose immunoglobulin. In some cases, a thymectomy, or surgical removal of the thymus gland, is necessary to lessen or eliminate symptoms.

Myasthenia Gravis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

At Northwestern Medicine, a team of committed physicians is striving every day to identify, and to provide, the most effective, most promising treatments to people affected by myasthenia gravis. Your generous donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will advance this important work and will offer hope to many patients and their loved ones.

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