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Signs and symptoms

A person with myasthenia gravis (MG) may experience a variety of symptoms. These may vary from day to day, worsen after activity and later in the day, and improve with rest. Symptoms may stay confined to the muscles around the eyes (ocular MG), but in most people they will extend to the face, neck, and other parts of the body within about a year (generalised MG). MG symptoms tend to worsen for several years and then stabilize. Some people may go through extended periods of remission.

Symptoms may include:

  • Drooping eyelid
  • Double vision
  • Decreased eye movement control
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, with choking, drooling and gagging
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak neck muscles
  • Trouble holding up head
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty walking and an altered gait
  • Specific muscle weakness but normal feelings/sensations

When MG affects the muscles that control breathing, it can cause a medical emergency called a myasthenic crisis that often requires hospitalisation and may require the temporary use of a respirator to assist ventilation.

Heat, stress, illness, and certain medications can cause symptoms to worsen.

Last Review Date: August 1, 2018