Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Does myasthenia gravis make it difficult to swallow?"
I am a 31 year old woman. Recently I started having difficulty swallowing and my face feels funny. Could this be why?
Myasthenia Gravis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks the junction between a nerve and a muscle blunting your brain's communication to your muscles. In other words you and your brain are telling a muscle to contract, but the message isn't getting there completely because the abnormal myasthenia gravis antibodies are blocking it. The symptom most felt by the patient is easy fatigability of the muscles. In the case of myasthenia gravis, the muscles that are affected first are the muscles that hold the eye lid up. Thus one of the first symptoms of myasthenia gravis is a droopy eye lid, most often after a period of time when the eyes have been open. The second group of muscles affected are typically muscles of the face, and muscles involved in swallowing. In very severe cases, the muscles of the diaphragm become effected making breathing difficult. If this stage is not treated properly, then myasthenia can be fatal. Thus, based on the description of your symptoms, I think you should see a doctor right away. Since there are other causes of difficulty swallowing and vague feelings in the face, I think you could first see your primary care physician. If you can't get into see your primary care physician right away, then jumping straight to seeing a neurologist would be very reasonable. The neurologist will have the expertise to diagnose you properly and provide you with the appropriate treatment.
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