Myasthenia gravis (MG) doesn’t have a cure. But with treatment, most people manage the condition well. Medications, surgeries, and other procedures can help. It may take time to find what works best for you.

Treatment Goals

The goal of treatment is to help muscle function and stop swallowing and breathing problems. If you have a severe case, you may need help breathing and eating.

Treatments include:

  • Medicines such as anticholinesterase drugs, steroids, or drugs that curb your immune system
  • Surgery to remove your thymus gland, which may ease symptoms
  • Plasmapheresis, a procedure that replaces abnormal antibodies in your blood with healthy antibodies from someone else
  • Immunoglobulins, blood products you get through an IV that help curb your immune system response

How Do I Know My Myasthenia Treatment Is Working?

Myasthenia gravis symptoms are different for every person. Symptoms tend to flare up then die down. You can also go into remission and have no symptoms. Doctors don’t know in advance if and how this might happen. That can make it hard to know if your treatment is working.

Your doctor can get a better picture of how things are going for you with notes on how your symptoms show up over time. They may give you a form to fill out called the Myasthenia Gravis Activities of Daily Living (MG-ADL) chart.

The MG-ADL is a tool you can use to chart which symptoms are most affecting how you live. You score yourself from 0-3 on eight different activities including:

  • Talking
  • Swallowing
  • Chewing
  • Breathing
  • Brushing your hair
  • Getting up from a chair
  • Seeing

You’ll also record whether you have eyelid droop. For each of these activities, you give yourself:

  • 0 – Normal
  • 1 – Occasional issues
  • 2 – Constant issues
  • 3 – Severe issues

You’ll add the results to give yourself a score out of 24. The higher the number, the worse your symptoms are. Typically, the doctor will ask you to do this two times a year.

It’s important to remember that other factors can keep treatment from working its best. These include:

  • Stress
  • Sleep problems
  • Illness
  • Overexertion, or too much activity
  • Pain
  • Extreme hot or cold 
  • Certain chemicals, such as insecticides or lawn treatments

When Should I Call My Doctor About My Myasthenia Gravis?

If you notice any of these symptoms come on suddenly or get worse in a short amount of time, tell your doctor:

  • A drooping eyelid
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems chewing and swallowing
  • Weakness in your arms and legs
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trouble breathing

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SOURCES:

Photo Credit: Charday Penn / Getty Images

Conquer Myasthenia Gravis: “Myasthenia Gravis Questions.”

Johns Hopkins Health: “Myasthenia Gravis.”

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health: “Clinical Review Report: Eculizumab (Soliris).”