Myasthenia Gravis Association

Myasthenia Gravis Association

What is MG?
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks and damages the nerve signal reception areas. This causes a breakdown between nerves and muscles and results in loss of effectiveness in the muscles of the arms, legs and eyes. The name ‘Myasthenia Gravis’ comes from the Greek and Latin words for ‘grave muscular weakness’.

Who gets MG?
MG occurs in all races, in both genders and at any age. It is not thought to be directly inherited, nor is it contagious. Occasionally, it occurs in more than one member of the same family. It most commonly affects young adult women (under 40) and older men (over 60), but it can occur at any age.

One in 10,000 people suffer from MG and many more go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness of the condition. In Ireland, there are around 500 diagnosed sufferers of MG, but it is estimated that for every diagnosed sufferer there are at least two to three others whose condition is undetected.

What are the symptoms?
The onset of MG may be sudden and may affect any voluntary muscle, although muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression and swallowing are the most frequently affected.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis can include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Chronic muscle fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing

In most cases, the first noticeable symptom of the disease is weakness of the eye muscles. In others, difficulty in swallowing and slurred speech may be the first signs. The degree of muscle weakness varies greatly among patients, ranging from a form of MG that is limited to eye muscles to a severe form in which many muscles – sometimes including those that control breathing – are affected. Symptoms, which vary in type and severity, may include a drooping of one or both eyelids; blurred or double vision due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movements; an unstable or waddling gait; weakness in the arms, hands, fingers, legs and neck; a change in facial expression; difficulty in swallowing; shortness of breath and impaired speech. MG is not a painful disease, but it can be debilitating if not treated.

Ronnie Whelan with MG patients

How is MG treated?
There is, as yet, no known cure for MG, but effective treatments are available that allow many – though not all – people with MG to lead full lives. Common treatments include medications, thymectomy (surgical removal of the thymus gland) and plasmapheresis (plasma exchange).
The effectiveness of current treatments for MG means that the outlook for most patients is bright. Although they will not be cured, treatments will lead to significant improvements in the muscle weakness of most patients. In some cases, MG may go into remission during which time no treatment is necessary

About Myasthenia Gravis Association
The Myasthenia Gravis Association (MGA) is a charity that supports people with the autoimmune, muscle weakening disease Myasthenia Gravis (MG).  The charity’s main objectives are:

1.                   To provide comfort and support for people diagnosed with MG.
2.                   To increase public and medical awareness of MG.
3.                   To support medical research projects to find a cure for MG.


Patron Ronnie WhelanWe are honored to have Ronnie Whelan as our patron and you can read more about Ronnie’s story here.


We need your help today
MGA receive no government funding and rely 100% on the generosity of our donors.
The nature of MG and the fact it has a less than pronounceable name means as a small charity we are often overlooked – but that does not mean we don’t need support.
By giving to MGA on a regular basis you help us to ensure there are continued support services in place for Myasthenics and allow us to continue our awareness raising campaigns to help those with MG get a prompt diagnosis and ultimately treatment.  Research is ongoing and your donation may mean that one day there is a cure for MG and those affected can lead a full, active and normal life once more.

Thank you.


To learn more about MG, the charity and our work visit

If you have concerns about MG you can contact us on our Freefone 1800 409 672

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Charitable Giving SUSTAIN is a scheme, exclusive to the Republic of Ireland, administered by Charitable Giving (UK Registered Charity No 1128013) The scheme enables employees to donate regularly in euros from their net pay to charities of their choice.
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