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Myasthenia Gravis

Progression

07/10/2008

Question:

I am a 55 year old male that has been diagnosed with MG recently. Is MG progressive? If so, is it relative to age or a natural progression? My symptoms are fatigue and breathing difficulty when performing laborous tasks which is worse in the heat.

Answer:

Remission, a reversal of some or all symptoms, occurs in about 20 percent of people with myasthenia. That means that for the majority of myasthenia patients, there are periods where the disease is very active. It is hard to predict what type of course you will have. Age brings other medical conditions which may complicate the disease and your body does not have the same reserves as when you were younger. The disease itself waxes and wanes; some days the symptoms will be very rough and other days the symptoms might be quite mellow. This is the same for people age 30 as it is for people age 55 and older. What is most important is that you pay attention to the trends of the disease and if you have continual progression downwards, you let your treating physician know.

Progression of disease could mean it is time for more intensive monitoring and maybe different therapy. In the interim, pay special attention to choking and difficulty breathing (first with exertion, then with rest). This is a sign of worsening disease that is more than just irritating: it can be dangerous and merits emergency evaluation.

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Response by:

Robert W Neel, IV, MD Robert W Neel, IV, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati