Medical Alerts for Seniors with Myasthenia Gravis

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Myasthenia Gravis

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


Myasthenia gravis is a common disorder that is characterized by weakness and fatigue of the skeletal muscles. The condition causes a breakdown of communication between one’s nerves and muscles. The disease cannot be directly inherited, nor is it contagious. However, the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis is regularly delayed, since muscle weakness is a common symptom of many other diseases.

Myasthenia gravis can affect individuals at any age but is more common in women under the age of 40 and men over the age of 60.

Myasthenia Gravis Overview

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Symptoms of the disease include weakness in the skeletal muscles, including those of the arms and legs. The muscle weakness may become worse after periods of activity, but most times, the pain and discomfort can be improved with adequate rest.

Muscles affected include those of the face, such as the muscles involved in expressions, eye movement, chewing, swallowing and talking. Additionally, breathing, neck and limb movement may also be affected.There is no cure for myasthenia gravis, but there may be treatments which can help relieve symptoms related to the disease.

Myasthenia Gravis Impairment

Myasthenia gravis can better be described as a malfunction in communication between nerve impulses and muscles. Myasthenia gravis causes the immune system to produce antibodies that may destroy and block muscle receptor sites, consequently interrupting communication. As a result of fewer receptor sites, fewer nerve signals are received by the muscles. This can result in muscle weakness.Any of the muscles which can be controlled voluntarily can be affected by myasthenia gravis, however, it’s been found that certain muscle groups are more commonly affected than others.

Studies have found that symptoms associated with the disease will usually disappear and reappear, but are often improved with rest. The symptoms associated with myasthenia gravis tend to progress over time, and usually become most severe within a few years of onset. The prognosis for myasthenia gravis is highly inconsistent; some patients experience complete remission, others can enjoy relatively normal lives with regular treatment, and yet others may receive poor prognosis as the disease advances.

Muscles commonly affected by myasthenia gravis include:

  • Eye muscles
  • Face muscles
  • Throat muscles
  • Neck muscles
  • Limb muscles
Medical Alert Benefits

A myasthenic crisis may occur when the muscles that control breathing become too weak, causing a life-threatening situation. Approximately 20 percent of individuals suffering with myasthenia gravis may experience at least one myasthenic crisis in their lifetime. During a myasthenic crisis, immediate medical attention is required. Medical alerts assure medical assistance if one is experienc­ing symptoms of muscle fatigue and muscle weakness.

Complications of myasthenia gravis are usually treatable, but can be life-threatening if left untreated. Symptoms may include:

  • Drooping or muscle weakness of one or both eyelids
  • Vision distortions that include double vision or blurred vision. This is a result of the weakening of the muscles that control eye movements.
  • Uncontrolled facial expression changes
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to speak or speech impairments
  • Weakness in the limbs
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Unfortunately, there are no known cures for myasthenia gravis; however, myasthenia gravis can normally be controlled. There are several therapies available that can help reduce and alleviate symptoms associated with the disease.

  • Muscle weakness: Many patients opt for a thymectomy, or an operation to remove the thymus gland.Removing the thymus gland can often reduce symptoms by rebalancing the immune system. Studies have found that the surgery can reduce muscle weakness and alleviate the need for immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Swallowing difficulties: Individuals may want to adjust their eating schedules to times when they have more muscle strength. Chewing should not be rushed, and if needed, breaks should be taken between bites. Meals should be smaller and eaten frequently throughout the day.
  • Limb weakness: Weakness of the legs may cause difficulty in walking properly. As a result, it is quite common for individuals to fall frequently in their homes. For these reasons, floors and stairways should be cleared of clutter. Additionally, railings and other supports throughout the home should be reinforced to help prevent falls.
Myasthenia Gravis Precautions:

New drugs are frequently being tested for effectiveness in treating this disease.At the present time, myasthenia gravis cannot be prevented. Fortunately, avoiding triggers may prevent exacerbation of the disease.

  1. Avoid emotional stress and anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can cause difficulties in swallowing and breathing. Individuals who are suffering with myasthenia gravis should search for distractions from stress. Examples include taking a walk, writing or reading a book
  2. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures: Extremely hot and cold weather can cause issues for those suffering with myasthenia gravis. Precautions such as keeping the home comfortable and dressing in layers when appropriate can help to minimize complications.
  3. Increase potassium levels: Low levels of potassium in the blood can cause muscle weakness, cramps and twitching. Potassium supplements can replace low potassium levels. Large amounts of potassium can aggravate the digestive tract, therefore supplements should be taken with food, in small doses, several times a day.
Myasthenia Gravis Medical Alerts Conclusion

Myasthenia gravis is the most commonly-occurring neuromuscular disorder, characterized by weakness and fatigue of the skeletal muscles. In the unfortunate event of a medical emergency related to this condition, medical alerts can provide the urgent response services needed. If a senior suffering from myasthenia gravis falls, feels weak, or needs help of any kind, medical alerts can notify the appropriate professionals and loved ones with ease.Its 24-hour monitoring capabilities will provide the peace of mind needed to feel safe at home.

T. Mashae Pearson - Senior Advisor

Shae is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.