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Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

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June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month!

Hey, friends! Glad you could make it back for another awareness blog today! Today we’re going to be talking about Myasthenia Gravis, which is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease, which is a rare disease. If you recall from my post about scleroderma, I am really passionate about raising awareness for diseases that most people have never heard about. The reason I care so much about rare diseases is because rare disease patients deal with constant misunderstanding or ignorance and have to so much adversity to overcome. When I say adversity, I mean that they have to fight for medication, accommodation when needed, and even diagnosis at times. Most rare disease patients spend years going from doctor to doctor trying to find a doctor who can figure out what’s wrong with them. Not all doctors are adept in recognizing, diagnosing, or treating rare diseases. People with rare diseases are forced to explain their condition whenever it’s relevant because most people haven’t heard of it before. It sucks and it’s exhausting. So, today, we’re going to educate ourselves on a rare disease so that we are informed individuals

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic condition with no cure, but it can be managed and controlled. It affects the muscles, and causes them to become tired or weak very easily. Weakness comes and goes, made worse from use and gets better from rest. Like many other chronic conditions, patients with Myasthenia gravis will experience periods of worsened symptoms, called exacerbations, as well as periods where symptoms are more controlled and less severe. One of the hallmarks of this particular disease is that the muscles become weakened from use, but get better after rest.

Myasthenia gravis can affect anyone. Typical diagnosis periods vary by sex. Men with the disease usually develop it between the ages of 50 and 70, while women with myasthenia gravis tend to be diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Sometimes, babies born to a mother with myasthenia gravis will experience temporary myasthenia gravis symptoms due to the transfer of antibodies in the mother to the baby during birth through the bloodstream. Neonatal myasthenia can be very dangerous, and even life threatening, but the baby’s body usually rids itself of the antibodies in the first couple of weeks. The baby then develops normal muscle function, strength, and tone.

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system is responsible for fighting off things like a virus, bacteria, or other things that may threaten health. In autoimmune diseases, the body mistakenly fights it’s own healthy cells. Each autoimmune disease attacks the body in different ways and places. In myasthenia gravis, the immune system affects the muscles by making antibodies which affects the nerve signals to the muscles, or blocks them entirely. Like other autoimmune diseases, diagnosing myasthenia gravis can take many years. Many autoimmune diseases share similar symptoms, and it sometimes takes awhile to decipher which disease is causing symptoms.

Symptoms of myasthenia gravis involve muscle weakness, which manifests in different ways in certain places of the body. One of the first symptoms patients recall noticing is in the eyes. Myasthenia gravis tends to cause eye muscle weakness early on in the disease process. This comes in the form of eyelid droopiness, and double vision and/or blurry vision. The clinical term for eyelid drooping is ptosis, and the blurry/double vision is called diplopia. Some patients have difficulty walking. Generally, patients experiencing weakness in the lower extremities exhibit an unusual or unstable gait, which basically just means walking pattern. Sometimes, patients have a change in facial expression when the muscles in the face become fatigued. One hallmark symptom of myasthenia gravis is difficulty swallowing. Many health issues can cause difficulty swallowing, but with this disease, it happens as a result of the esophagus weakening or becoming tired. This can be very dangerous, potentially, because of the risk for choking. Patients may also experience shortness of breath or difficulty speaking because the muscles responsible for both actions become weakened or fatigues. As you can see, muscle weakness is at the root of symptoms. It can occur all over the body, including areas not mentioned above such as the arms, hands, fingers, legs and neck.

Myasthenia gravis is neither contagious nor hereditary, although there is some evidence to suggest a genetic susceptibility to the disease. The disease is thought to develop as a result of the thymus gland giving developing immune cells the wrong message, resulting in the production of antibodies to the acetylcholine receptors. These receptors are responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. One of the tests used to diagnose myasthenia gravis detects whether or not there are acetylcholine receptor antibodies present in the body. It is also believed that the disease may be caused by a virus or bacteria that triggers an autoimmune response, resulting in autoimmune dysfunction.

Myasthenic crisis is a critical and acute state caused by the disease. In myasthenic crisis, the muscles that are responsible for breathing become so weak that the patient is unable to breathe on their own. In severe cases it may even lead to complete lung failure. When this occurs, emergency ventilation is necessary to keep the person alive. There is no direct cause of myasthenic crisis. It is believed that anything that may trigger your normal myasthenia gravis symptoms to act up or worsen could potentially also lead to myasthenic crisis. Things that trigger the disease to act up include other illnesses, such as a cold or flu, pneumonia, or other lung infections. Changes in medicine, and hormones can also cause the disease to act up. Anything that causes stress on the body can trigger it, actually, for example surgery, or an accident, or being upset. Myasthenic crisis can be caused by a thymus tumor, which is a gland in the chest. The thymus is believed to be a source of myasthenia gravis. Some patients develop the disease as a result of a tumor on the thymus, while others develop it without any tumors. Some patients with myasthenia gravis who surgically remove their thymus, whether or not they have a tumor, recover remarkably. Myasthenic crisis can be diagnosed in a number of ways. Many of the ways to diagnose it include imaging such as x-rays, MRI’s, and CT/CAT scans to look at the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Doctors also use blood gas tests and pulmonary function tests. Blood gas tests are blood tests where they take blood directly from an artery to measure the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen present in it. This tells doctors how well your lungs are functioning. Pulmonary function tests show doctors how well your body is using oxygen. These tests are pretty easy and just require you to breathe into a mouthpiece for a little while.

The prognosis for myasthenia gravis varies greatly, and is dependent on how severely the individual patient’s disease is progressing. Patients who undergo surgery to remove their thymus have about a 50 percent rate of remission. I know you may be remembering that this disease is a chronic illness and cannot be cured, but you must remember that remission is not the same as a cure. Remission can come and go. Most patients lead pretty normal lives with the help of medicine. For some with advanced cases of the disease, the prognosis may be poor, even with all available medical care. There are many medications available for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, immunosuppressant’s, IVIG, plasmapheresis, and more. Thymectomy, which is the surgery to remove the thymus gland, are shown to be very successful in managing myasthenia gravis. There is a pretty positive outcome for patients who undergo the surgery. Some achieve full remission, while others have a significant reduction in symptoms or severity. This surgery is the most promising option for achieving remission without the need for medications on an ongoing basis. This only works for about 30 percent of the people who have the surgery, but even without full remission, around 50 percent have very favorable outcomes.

Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got for you today! Make sure you come back in a couple days for part two of the Men’s Health Week awareness blog! We’ll be picking up where we left off on the ten biggest killers.

If you’re new to the awareness blog, let me welcome you! I am so glad you decided to spare a few minutes to learn about this disease. Let give you a little bit of information on us. This blog is run by Personalized Cause, an awareness accessory company that specializes in custom awareness ribbons. Custom awareness ribbons are a unique product offered exclusively by Personalized Cause. With custom awareness ribbons, our customers have the option to personalize any one of our customizable ribbons with a name, date, phrase, or message of their choice. These custom awareness ribbons are unique in design, but also unique in that they require no minimum purchase. Order a bunch of the same, all different, or just a single custom awareness ribbon. It’s completely up to you. Personalized Cause believes in the power of awareness, which is why we’ve started this awareness blog. Our mission is to help you raise awareness for causes close to your heart with our line of awareness products, but also to raise awareness for as many causes as possible on our own. We strive to create a community of educated and compassionate people, while also calling attention to causes that may be unknown or misunderstood. I hope you’ll join us for our next installment of the awareness blog.

Teal awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for myasthenia gravis. To order a teal custom awareness ribbon, visit:

#myastheniagravis #doublevision #chronicillness #autoimmune #thymectomy #autoimmunedisease #nerves #muscles #myastheniagravisawareness #awareness #awarenessblog #awarenessribbons #cancerribbons

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

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Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

Come one, come all, it’s time for another fascinating and educational installment of the awareness blog! To all our returning readers, thanks so much for coming back friends. To all our new readers, welcome! We’re so happy you stumbled across us, and decided to give our blog a read. I hope you’re all pumped to learn some knew things.

Returning readers, you know the drill. You can skip our intro and head to the good part. New readers, let me give you a little overview about who we are, and what we’re trying to achieve here with our blog. This blog is designed to raise awareness for a myriad of diseases, causes, and issues that affect people everyday. There is a seemingly endless list of causes, illnesses and issues out there and we want to help raise awareness for as many of them as we can, because raising awareness is kinda our thing. Personalized Cause is a business dedicated to empowering others to raise awareness for the causes and illnesses that are close to their hearts. Personalized Cause was created in an effort to put a name to an illness, so that others could see and understand how they had been affected by that particular cause. We know that tying a person to a cause makes people more likely to want to listen and learn about it, thereby raising awareness one person at a time. Personalized Cause is the number 1 source for cloisonné custom awareness ribbons in the United States. We carry fabric ribbons, classic awareness ribbons, custom awareness ribbons, and awareness wristbands (basically all the essential awareness accessories). Our custom awareness ribbons are our most popular product, given that they are so unique. I hope you’ll give our website a look if you ever find yourself in the market for custom awareness ribbons.

(Returning readers, here’s your starting line.)

Today, we are going to talk about a condition called Fibromyalgia. There is a lot of misinformation and misconception regarding fibromyalgia. People who aren’t familiar with fibromyalgia tend to think that fibromyalgia is something that happens when people are depressed or lazy or don’t exercise, and sometimes blame people who have the condition for bringing it upon themselves. Let’s put a stop to that, shall we?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, causing widespread pain throughout the body, and may also cause fatigue, mood, memory and sleep. Fibromyalgia intensifies the sensation of pain in the nerves and muscles. It is believed that the source of the pain magnification stems from the way the brain processes pain signals in the body. The pain that people who suffer from the condition is as real as the pain that those who do not have fibromyalgia feel. It is not made up. It is not exaggerated. They are not weak people. They do not need to toughen up or walk it off. I hope I’ve made myself perfectly clear on that. (All you people out there suffering from fibromyalgia, I got your back.)

Fibromyalgia can be caused by many different things. Some people’s symptoms arise after a physical or emotional trauma, for example a soldier wounded in combat may develop fibromyalgia after the incident, whether from the psychological stress of the event, or a physical injury suffered during it. Sometimes fibromyalgia can be caused by a surgery, or an infection. Other times, fibromyalgia comes on gradually over time with no apparent cause that triggered the condition.

People who suffer from fibromyalgia describe the pain they experience as a chronic ache, particularly in the neck, back, and joints. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can come and go over a person’s lifetime, but can also last for months or years, uninterrupted. People with fibromyalgia often experience chronic fatigue, regardless of how long they sleep. Sleep is often affected fibromyalgia because the pain keeps patients from falling asleep or getting back to sleep. People with fibromyalgia often have other unassociated sleep issues, too, like restless legs syndrome, insomnia or sleep apnea.

It can also cause serious mental cognition issues, commonly referred to as brain fog in the fibro community. Brain fog, also sometimes called “fibro fog,” is described as confusion, memory impairment, difficulty following a train of thought, and trouble with staying focused. I’ve heard stories about people who drive to a destination and then can’t remember why they are there, or people who put something in the oven and then leave the house and come home to the fire department. That last one is more common than you’d think. My point is, brain fog can be serious and potentially dangerous, so it’s important to be aware that it can occur.

Fibromyalgia can co-occur with other health issues, particularly health problems that cause pain. People who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome causes pain in the stomach), interstitial cystitis (which causes pain in the bladder), TMJ (which causes pain in the jaw), and migraine headaches or other headache disorders have an increased rate of fibromyalgia.

While doctors have identified many of the triggers for fibromyalgia, they aren’t certain exactly what causes the brain the start processing pain differently. There does appear to be a link between fibromyalgia and genetics, considering that it is common to see the condition occur in many people of the same family. This could be caused by a mutation in the genes, or even a genetic susceptibility to developing the condition.

There are also certain risk factors that can make you more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men are. It is not known why it is more common in women than men. Family history also plays a big role in your likelihood of developing the condition, as we discussed in the last paragraph. If one of your close relatives suffers from fibromyalgia, your likelihood of developing the condition is higher. Of course, other diseases and disorders also make you more prone to fibromyalgia. Many autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis also come with a higher rate of fibromyalgia. Chronic conditions that leave people too fatigued to leave the house tend to co-occur with fibromyalgia.

Because fibromyalgia can be debilitating for some, there is an increased likelihood for people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia to develop depression, or have worsening depression during time when their fibromyalgia symptoms are worse. The lack of sleep, in addition to constant pain can cause people’s mental and emotional state to be affected. (Personally, I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t become depressed if they couldn’t get restful sleep and had to live in constant pain.)

Fibromyalgia can be diagnosed if you have experienced widespread pain (meaning on both sides of the body, and both the top and bottom of the body) for over three months, with no other conditions that could be accounting for the pain. There used to be something called the “tender point exam,” where doctors examined 18 specific points on the body to diagnose the condition. The tender test is no longer protocol for diagnosis. Since widespread pain can be a scary symptom, your doctor will probably want to rule out any other health problems that could be causing the pain by taking blood. You should definitely rule out everything before you move ahead with a fibromyalgia diagnosis because some of the things that can cause widespread pain can be very dangerous.

There are many more options for treating fibromyalgia these days than there used to be. People can treat pain with everything from over the counter pain medicines, to drugs such as Lyrica, to anti-depressants, to anti-seizure medications. They all work on the brain and can significantly reduce the pain, and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are also very successful if the patient complies home therapy and commits to the plan. Often times, patients become discouraged when there is no immediate sign of improvement and quit physical therapy or occupational therapy. Both types of therapy are not instant fixes, and need long periods of time to see improvement. People who stick with it do report a decline in symptoms over time. It may also help to get frequent massages (you don’t have to twist my arm). There are places like Massage Envy, I think, that now accept insurance for issues like fibromyalgia, so look into your healthcare plan and see if you can get coverage for therapeutic massage. If it isn’t covered, you should call your insurance provider (I know, I know, nobody wants to be on the phone all day dealing with insurance) and see if there is anything you can do in order to qualify for those benefits.

In honor of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, Chronic Fatigue Awareness Day, and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Awareness Day, we recognize the very real pain and suffering caused by invisible illnesses.

And on that note, I’ll end my entry for today. I hope everyone came away from my post with a greater understanding and appreciation of people who suffer from fibromyalgia. Invisible illnesses can be tough, so be kind to yourself and those suffering.

Fibromyalgia is represented by a purple awareness ribbon. To order a custom purple awareness ribbon, please visit this link:

#fibromyalgia #chronicfatigue #myalgicencephalomyelitis #awareness #invisibleillness #chronicillness #ME #fibro #chronicpain #MECFS #cfs #fibrowarrior #fibrofighter #cancerribbons