Indicative Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis You Should Not Ignore

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  • In myasthenia gravis, muscle weakness is the main symptom you should watch out for. It can suddenly strike anywhere in your body
  • If you’re a woman between the ages of 20 and 40, or a man between the ages of 50 and 70, and develop any sort of muscle weakness, especially in the face and the limbs, visit a doctor immediately

In myasthenia gravis, muscle weakness is the main symptom you should watch out for. It can suddenly strike anywhere in your body, but it appears more often in these two areas:1

Facial Area

Around 50 percent of people with myasthenia gravis first develop muscle weakness in one or both eyelids. They will droop, causing you to develop double vision.

The muscles in your jaw area may be affected as well. Your speech may be altered, and may become very soft or nasal. You may have difficulty chewing and swallowing food, resulting in unfinished meals. It can be hard to project facial expressions as well, which can lead you to think you have Bell's palsy.2

Limbs

In other cases, myasthenia gravis can affect your arms, legs or neck. Sometimes, all of them can be affected at the same time. As a result, balance and movement can be severely affected. Your head may drop, and you may have difficulty going from one place to another.

Activities such as climbing the stairs, brushing your teeth and taking a bath may become harder to execute, and you may experience fatigue faster than usual.

Do Not Overlook the Symptoms of a Myasthenic Crisis

A myasthenic crisis is a complication that arises from myasthenia gravis. It is life-threatening because in this situation, your breathing muscles weaken, leading to problems inhaling oxygen. It’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of people with myasthenia gravis develop this condition eight to 12 months upon the onset of their condition.

In some cases, however, 20 percent of people with myasthenia gravis already exhibit a myasthenic crisis as their first symptom.3 Keep an eye out for these different symptoms of a myasthenic crisis:4

Difficulty breathing and speaking

The skin between your ribs, abdomen and/or neck pulls in when you breathe

Fatigue during daytime

Morning headaches

Sleeping problems

Weak cough and difficulties ejecting mucus or saliva

Trouble swallowing and weight loss


In addition, the following complications can appear alongside a myasthenic crisis:5

Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein, which is usually in the leg)

Urinary tract infection

Sepsis (an overreaction of your immune system in response to a bacterial infection)

Bronchitis

Fever

Pneumonia

Cardiac complications such as arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and congestive heart failure


Your Thymus Gland May Exhibit Symptoms With Myasthenia Gravis

It’s estimated that around 15 percent of people with myasthenia gravis have thymoma, which is a tumor in the thymus gland. It’s not clear how the two are related, but it’s important to be aware of its symptoms in case it does appear:6

Chest pains

Fever

Shortness of breath

Weight loss

Coughing

Night sweats

In addition, there’s a 50 percent chance that a thymoma can be asymptomatic. If left untreated, the tumor can spread to nearby organs like the lungs or heart. To check your thymus gland’s condition, ask your doctor to undergo imaging tests when diagnosing for myasthenia gravis.7

What to Do if You Think You Have Myasthenia Gravis

If you’re a woman between the ages of 20 and 40, or a man between the ages of 50 and 70, and develop any sort of muscle weakness, especially in the face and the limbs, visit a doctor immediately.8 Getting immediate treatment is crucial, especially if your breathing muscles are affected. Your balance and coordination may suffer as well, increasing your risk of accidents.

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