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In dermatomyositis and polymyositis, weakness usually affects muscles near the centre of the body like the neck, shoulders and hips. Patients can experience difficulty with simple tasks like combing their hair, dressing, getting into a car, and standing up from a sitting position or climbing stairs. About one third or half of such patients also have problems swallowing and often choke when drinking fluids. Some patients with dermatomyositis and polymyositis also have lung involvement which results in cough and breathlessness.
General symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, weight loss and poor appetite are also very common