The neuromuscular disease myasthenia gravis is often difficult to diagnose. It can take up to two years after its effects start to appear before doctors can get a handle on what is going on.
Myasthenia can affect any muscle in the body that you can voluntarily control, but the most common symptoms are:
- Weakness in the muscles of the chest wall, which can make breathing difficult
- Soft or nasal speech, or having to struggle, physically, to speak
- Unexplained hoarseness or changes in the voice
- Droopy eyelids, double vision, or problems maintaining a steady gaze
- Weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face, and a markedly curtailed range of facial expressions
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, and frequent drooling, gagging or choking
- Unexplained fatigue and a feeling of having to work extra hard to move
- Trouble lifting your head and facing forward rather than down
- Sudden inability to lift things, stand up from a chair, or climb stairs
Symptoms of myasthenia gravis often improve after a rest, but they tend to get steadily worse over time. The difficult breathing can be life threatening.
If you develop double vision, you have trouble chewing or swallowing, you find your eyelid drooping, or you experience intermittent muscle weakness, contact a doctor. These are the most obvious signs of myasthenia gravis, and a doctor can help you create a treatment strategy.