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Myasthenia Gravis




My mother has recently been diagnosed with this condition and will be going in for a CAT scan or MRI next week to see if there is more that they can figure out. Is this condition genetically passed down to her children? She is in her 80`s and I am in my mid 50`s. What should I look out for in my own health over the next years?


While acquired autoimmune myasthenia is usually not considered hereditary, there are people who have genetic predispositions toward autoimmune disease, like myasthenia. It is the same for the other autoimmune diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. There are also congenital forms of myasthenia that are hereditary but these usually manifest at earlier ages (before the age of 50).

Become familiar with the disease. It is not only good for you to know the symptoms, but it is also good for your mother for you to know these symptoms. It usually presents as fatiguing weakness of proximal muscles (shoulders, thighs, hips), diplopia (double vision), ptosis (droopy eyelids), and can even present with dysphagia (swallowing problems), dysarthria (slurred speech), and dyspnea (breathing weakness). Eye movement abnormalities are the most common symptom of myasthenia gravis. Fatiguing weakness is a hallmark, meaning the weakness fluctuates during the day (better upon awakening, worse after exertion).

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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