Myasthenia means muscle weakness. It affects the muscles that let you move but not the automatic ones like your heart that you don’t have to think about. Your brain tells your muscles to work, but the message doesn’t get through.
Myasthenia Gravis and Lambert Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome are autoimmune conditions in which the antibodies which normally fight infections go wrong and instead attack the communication system between the brain and your movement muscles.
And Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome is caused by an inherited genetic fault.
The symptoms for all types of Myasthenia include muscle weakness which makes day to day activities like walking, talking and even smiling very difficult, and when the swallowing and breathing muscles are affected this can lead to an emergency.
There is no cure but the medication is effective.
Myasthenia can affect anyone almost regardless of age, sex or race. However, the age of onset has two main peaks: between the ages of 15-30 (when 75% of patients are women) and between the ages of 60-70 (when 60% of patients are men). MG associated with thymoma has a peak between the ages of 40-50.
Incidence and prevalence
There are no accurate published figures but we think there are around 10-12,000 people living with Myasthenias in the UK and Ireland.
We are aware of approximately 600 people currently living with Myasthenia in Yorkshire and Humberside.
Impact on health and social care services
As a life long illness, people diagnosed with Myasthenia are likely to require input at different times from some or all of the following:
- Neurology consultants
- Specialist nurses
- Ophthalmology services
- Speech and language therapists
- Occupational therapists
Some people living with Myasthenia may need a range of equipment and aids in order to maintain their independence.