Myasthenia gravis: early signs that often get misdiagnosed

New treatments have helped give myasthenia gravis (MG) a better prognosis in Texas and throughout the country. The recent developments have brought the number of people with MG down to 3.5% compared to 20% more than 100 years ago, and life expectancy is equal to those without MG. Early MG diagnoses contribute to successful treatment as well as patients showing typical signs.

Atypical symptoms and misdiagnosis

Doctors have become more aware of the condition’s early symptoms, but myasthenia gravis can get mistaken for other neurological diseases. Patients may ignore the symptoms, and the degree of muscle weakness is seldom consistent enough for an accurate diagnosis.

To complicate things more, a person could exhibit atypical symptoms without being triggered. For example, muscle weakness is common after a workout, so an individual may not think much about it.

Common signs of MG

A common sign of MG is drooping eyelids, but it can be hard to spot since it may happen for several seconds or in one eye. Some patients do not experience drooping eyelids, and it commonly manifests later than other signs. The symptoms of MG commonly are like those of MS.

Lid retraction happens when the lower eyelid stays much lower than usual, or the upper eyelid stays higher. It is not a typical sign, but it can indicate MG. General fatigue is another possible MG sign that may cause shortness of breath and pain that worsens throughout the day.

Another type of myasthenia, Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS), could be behind the symptoms. LEMS usually starts in the upper hip, arm, leg and shoulder area.

While MG commonly gets successfully treated with surgery or medication, a misdiagnosis delays treatment, which could make the problem worse. Sometimes, patients may have to file a medical malpractice claim if they feel a misdiagnosis has caused them issues.