It can make them difficult to diagnose. Myasthenia gravis is one of them.
Doctors said the disorder is more common in women under 40. As they work to discover why, they said living with it is better than before.
Shirley Terell has spent a lot of time with doctors over the last 17 years. She was diagnosed in 1997 with myasthenia gravis.
“When I first started the symptoms, it’s like something wrong and you don’t know,” Terell said.
Not knowing was scary, and even though it was a long time ago, the Baltimore grandmother said getting the news she had myasthenia gravis was alarming.
Many doctors, like neurologist Bonnie Gereck with Mercy Medical Center, said it’s common for people to react that way.
“It’s a neuromuscular disorder in which a patient develops a weakness in the skeletal muscles, the voluntary muscles of their body,” Gereck said.
The term myasthenia gravis comes from Greek and Latin. Gravis means severe, and myasthenia is muscle weakness. It’s a misnomer these days because that term was coined when there were not good treatments for the condition.
Gereck said now there are.
“Now with good treatments, patients are asymptomatic, have normal lives with normal life expectancy,” she said.
Terell wanted to see Gereck because her eye is bothering her — a common symptom.
It can be easily helped through medication. Terell said most days she doesn’t even think about having myasthenia gravis.
“I don’t want to think about the negative because there’s such positive. I’m doing great now,” Terell said.
Gereck is glad patients, like Terell, will open up about myasthenia gravis so more people can know it’s manageable.