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Myasthenia Gravis

What medications can be taken by people with Myasthenia Gravis?

  1. Where can a list of medications to be used with caution by a Myasthenia Gravis patient be found?
  2. What drugs can help me sleep?
  3. What kind of effect do heart medications have on Myasthenia Gravis?
  4. What kind of effect do asthma medications have on Myasthenia Gravis?
  5. What kind of pain medicine can a person with Myasthenia Gravis use?
  6. Should Myasthenia Gravis patients get vaccines/shots?

    Where can a list of medications to be used with caution by a Myasthenia Gravis patient be found?

    See the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America's list of medications that need to be used with caution by patients with MG.

    What drugs can help me sleep?

    In general I think it is best to work on a healthy sleeping pattern and habits and avoid sleeping pills.

    What kind of effect do heart medications have on Myasthenia Gravis?

    Certain heart medications may increase the weakness caused by Myasthenia Gravis. Water pills may lower potassium levels and produce weakness. It is best to discuss specific medication reactions with your doctor or pharmacist. Do NOT stop taking any medications without notifying your doctor first.

    What kind of effect do asthma medications have on Myasthenia Gravis?

    Asthma medications are not thought to worsen Myasthenia Gravis. Patients with MG and asthma often notice that Mestinon worsens asthma because of increased secretions. If you are having extreme weakness for whatever reason, then you should contact your physician.

    What kind of pain medicine can a person with Myasthenia Gravis use?

    The greatest concern in using pain medicine is its effect on slowing down the rate of breathing and increasing the chance of a respiratory arrest. Codeine is a medicine that can decrease breathing and suppress the ability to cough. Morphine and other narcotics are used routinely after thymectomy without difficulty. However, they should be used with caution because of their potential to decrease the ability to breathe.

    Should Myasthenia Gravis patients get vaccines/shots?

    There is no scientific proof to determine how vaccines affect a MG patient. I typically have patients with severe MG not receive flu vaccines (flu shots) out of concern that the vaccination could stimulate the immune system in undesirable ways (triggering an MG relapse). If a patient is doing well, I recommend the flu vaccination since my impression is that it is safer to be protected from the flu.

    For more information:

    Go to the Myasthenia Gravis health topic, where you can:

    Last Reviewed: Oct 02, 2003

    Henry J Kaminski, MD Henry J Kaminski, MD
    Formerly, Professor of Neurology
    School of Medicine
    Case Western Reserve University