Myasthenia Gravis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease affecting nerve and muscle signaling.

Signs and symptoms of myasthenia gravis include problems with vision such as double vision, eye muscle weakness, drooping of the upper eyelid, weakness of the arms and legs, difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Other associated symptoms can include neck weakness, changes in facial expressions, and problems with walking (gait disturbances). Muscle weakness typically increases during activity and improves with periods of rest.

Causes of myasthenia gravis

A mistaken immune response to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are found in junctions between muscles and the nervous system, causes myasthenia gravis. In myasthenia gravis, the body produces antibodies that attack these receptors, preventing signals from reaching the muscles.

Other myasthenia gravis symptoms and signs

  • Changes in Facial Expressions
  • Difficulty Speaking
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Double Vision
  • Drooping of the Upper Eyelid
  • Eye Muscle Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness That Increases During Activity
  • Neck Weakness
  • Problems With Walking
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Weakness of the Arms and Legs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.