June is Myasthenia Gravis awareness month. Myasthenia Gravis or MG is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that is all-too-often unknown to the general public and undiagnosed by many in the medical community. MG has no known cause or cure. It can affect all races and both genders, and it can occur at almost any age. The rate of MG is 20 per 100,000. Just a few years ago it was 1 per 40,000. Education and awareness bring diagnosis and help to new patients every day. The most common age of onset is the second and third decades in women and the seventh and eighth decades of men. As the population ages, the average age of onset increases correspondingly; now males are more often affected than females and the onset of symptoms is usually after age 50.
MG means "grave muscle weakness". Common symptoms can include:
+ A drooping eyelid
+ Blurred or double vision
+ Slurred speech
+ Difficulty chewing or swallowing
+ Weakness in the arms and legs
+ Chronic muscle fatigue
+ Difficulty breathing
Although medications and treatments are available, the disease causes disability and in cases death. More research and education is needed.
Persons who feel they may have this disease do not have to go it alone. Several years ago, an MG support group was formed in San Antonio. It is estimated there are 150 people from San Antonio and surrounding communities who suffer from the disease, 50 of which are associated with this support group.. More information is available at their website www.mgsouthtexas.org
Elroy and Gail Tschirhart
San Antonio, Texas