What is myasthenia gravis?

- Six years ago while eating dinner Elizabeth Roque started to feel the first symptoms of an autoimmune disorder known as myasthenia gravis. Suddenly, she could not move some parts of her body. 

Neurologists are familiar with the disease but the symptoms can look like other problems so patients with M.G. often have trouble getting the right diagnosis. It took six months for doctors to figure out what was really wrong with Elizabeth. The answer came after a simple blood test and scan showing her enlarged thymus organ.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel neurologist Dr. Daniel MacGowan says M.G. is similar to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. He explains that M.G. is a communication problem between nerves and muscles. There is no cure but drugs can put the disease into remission. Patients can live a relatively normal life. But left untreated or undiagnosed, M.G. can be fatal.

Dr. MacGowan says the vast majority of patients will have droopy eyelids when they wake up in the morning. They'll often have double vision or difficulty speaking breathy. Simple office tests can also detect M.G.

Elizabeth has gone back to work as a physical therapist part time. Saturday she will by trying to raise awareness and money for a cure by walking in the TriState M.G. Walk in Long Island City. Elizabeth says that at one point her muscles were so weak she couldn't smile. Thanks to the right diagnosis and treatment, Elizabeth is smiling again.

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