Myasthenia gravis affects your nerves’ ability to control your muscles. For some people, this raises the risk of injuries at home. Double vision, trouble walking, and fatigue are just some of the things that can cause you to fall, bump into objects, and have other painful accidents.
You probably don’t need to make major adjustments to your home or lifestyle in order stay safe. With some smart planning and simple changes, you can prevent injuries.
Improve Your Lighting
Myasthenia gravis often affects the muscles around your eyes. In fact, a subtype of the disorder called ocular myasthenia gravis affects only the muscles that move the eyes and eyelids. Because many people with myasthenia gravis have double vision and trouble focusing, good lighting is crucial.
- Install lights at the bottom and top of stairs.
- Move light switches to the outside of a room’s entrance.
- Install bright lightbulbs.
- Change bulbs as soon as they burn out.
- Use a night light between your bed and the bathroom.
Prevent Falls Due to Weak Legs
When myasthenia gravis affects muscles throughout your body -- not just your eyes -- your arms and legs can feel weak. These are ways you can prepare for the bad days, or even certain times of day when your muscle strength is low.
- Keep a cane or walker nearby for support.
- Limit time in the shower or bath, which can cause even more weakness.
- Get help bathing when you feel especially weak.
- Use a shower chair if you feel unsteady.
Remove Tripping Hazards
Anyone can trip on slippery floors or uneven surfaces. If you have muscle weakness and vision trouble, you’re at even greater risk of a slip-and-fall accident. That’s why people with myasthenia gravis should take extra care to reduce trip and slip hazards at home, such as:
- Objects in walkways
- Holes or rough spots in the floor
- Floor spills
- Waxed/polished floors
- Rugs that aren’t secured to the floor
- Loose stair railings
- Loose or uneven stairs
Showers are slippery spots. Place a rubber mat in the tub or shower floor. Install grab bars on the walls.
Other Things to Think About
Making your home safer can go a long way toward preventing injuries. But there are a few other things you can do to protect yourself.
- Don’t crank the heat up high. Being too warm can make your symptoms worse.
- Wear comfortable footwear with non-skid soles in the house.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medications you take (including over-the-counter drugs) could make you sleepy or dizzy. If the answer is yes, ask about taking a lower dose or switching to a different drug.
Talk to Your Doctor About Exercise
When it comes to preventing falls, experts say exercise is key. It improves strength, balance, and coordination, among other benefits.
But if you have myasthenia gravis, you need to be more cautious than most people. Doing too much can wipe out your strength and energy. With myasthenia gravis, muscle weakness tends to get worse the more you move and gets better when you rest.
Check with your doctor before you start to exercise, but try to:
- Exercise for short periods of time.
- Exercise at the times of day when you feel strongest.
- Don’t exercise when you feel weak.
- Find out the best exercise for your body, which could range from gentle tai chi to more intense workouts on the elliptical trainer.