Almost 450 people in Ireland have been diagnosed with the muscle weakness disease, MG, however it is estimated that for every diagnosed sufferer, there are at least two to three others whose condition has not yet been detected.
MG (myasthenia gravis) is an autoimmune disease that causes a breakdown between nerves and muscles. This results in a loss of effectiveness in the muscles of the arms, legs and eyes.
The main symptoms are drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, slurred speech, difficulty chewing or swallowing, chronic muscle fatigue and breathing difficulties. Since the disease can cause weakness in the arms and legs, it is sometimes referred to as ‘rag doll illness’.
According to the Myasthenia Gravis Association (MGA), one in 10,000 people are affected by the condition, however many more are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness of the condition.
It is launching a national awareness campaign on the condition next week, with the help of former Irish soccer player, Ronnie Whelan. His eldest daughter was diagnosed with the disease in 2005, when she was 18 years old.
“It was only when MG touched my immediate family that I found out what it was, so I am really determined now to raise awareness about the disease and help families throughout Ireland to find out more about its symptoms and effects”, he said.