Does Mestinon (pyridostigmine) cause side effects?
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that helps cells communicate with each other. One important function of acetylcholine is to produce muscle contractions and movement. In people with myasthenia gravis or people treated with neuromuscular blocking medicines there is a decrease in acetylcholine levels.
Mestinon may be used to increase acetylcholine levels and improve muscle contraction or movement. Mestinon increases the concentration of acetylcholine at nerve junctions by inhibiting cholinesterase, the enzyme that destroys acetylcholine.
Common side effects of Mestinon include
- stomach cramps,
- increased salivation,
- increased bronchial secretions,
- pupil constriction, and
Serious side effects of Mestinon include
- new or increased muscle cramps/weakness/twitching,
- shortness of breath,
- new or increased difficulty swallowing,
- slow heartbeat, dizziness, and
Drug interactions of Mestinon include other cholinesterase inhibitors such as neostigmine or edrophonium because of the risk of additive toxicity.
Use of quinine with Mestinon should be avoided as the actions of quinine on skeletal muscle are opposite to those of Mestinon.
The safety of Mestinon during pregnancy has not been evaluated. Mestinon should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risk to the mother and the unborn baby.
What are the important side effects of Mestinon (pyridostigmine)?
Possible side effects of pyridostigmine therapy include:
Mestinon (pyridostigmine) side effects list for healthcare professionals
The side effects of Mestinon (pyridostigmine) are most commonly related to overdosage and generally are of two varieties, muscarinic and nicotinic. Among those in the former group are
- abdominal cramps,
- increased peristalsis,
- increased salivation,
- increased bronchial secretions,
- miosis and
Nicotinic side effects are comprised chiefly of
- muscle cramps,
- fasciculation and
Muscarinic side effects can usually be counteracted by atropine, but for reasons shown in the preceding section the expedient is not without danger.
As with any compound containing the bromide radical, a skin rash may be seen in an occasional patient. Such reactions usually subside promptly upon discontinuance of the medication.
Mestinon (pyridostigmine) is an oral cholinesterase inhibitor used to treat myasthenia gravis. Common side effects of Mestinon include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, increased salivation, increased bronchial secretions, pupil constriction, and sweating. The safety of Mestinon during pregnancy has not been evaluated. Mestinon can be excreted into human milk and should be used cautiously in breastfeeding mothers.
Related Disease Conditions
Myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Varying degrees of weakness of the voluntary muscles of the body are the main characteristics. A defect in the transmission of nerve impulses of the muscles is the cause of myasthenia gravis. Myasthenic crisis is when the muscles that control breathing weaken, which requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include weakness of the eye muscles, facial expression, and difficulty swallowing. Treatment of myasthenia gravis includes medical therapies to control the symptoms of the disease.
MS (Multiple Sclerosis) vs. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Differences and Similarities
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) are both diseases of the nervous system (neurodegenerative). ALS is a disease in which the nerve cells in the body are attacked by the immune system, although it's not considered an autoimmune disease by some scientists. MS is an autoimmune disease in which the insulated covering of the nerves (myelin sheath) in the CNS (central nervous system) degenerate, or deteriorate. Scientists don't know the exact cause of either problem. However, they have discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the SOD1 enzyme were associated with some cases of familial ALS. Scientists also theorize that multiple sclerosis may be caused by infection or vitamin D deficiency. ALS occurs between 50-70 years of age (the average age of occurrence ALS is 55), and mostly affects men. While MS occurs between 20-60 years of age, and mostly affects women. About 30,000 people in the US have ALS, and an average of 5,000 new diagnoses per year (that's about 15 new cases per week). Worldwide, MS affects more than 2.3 million people, with about 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year (that's about 200 new diagnoses per week).Some of the signs and symptoms of both diseases include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, problems walking, fatigue, slurred speech, and problems swallowing. ALS signs and symptoms that are different from MS include problems holding the head upright, clumsiness, muscle cramps and twitches, problems holding objects, and uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying. MS signs and symptoms that are different from ALS include vision problems, vertigo and balance problems, sexual problems, memory problems, depression, mood swings, and digestive problems. There is no cure for either disease, however the prognosis and life expectancy are different. Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal condition, while ALS progresses rapidly and leads to death.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a neurological disease that progresses rapidly. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for the control of voluntary muscles. Early symptoms include cramping, twitching, or stiffness of the muscles; slurred nasal speech; difficulty swallowing or chewing, and muscle weakness in an arm or leg. Currently, the cause of ALS is not known. ALS is a fatal disease. No cure has been found for ALS, however, the drug riluzole (Rilutek) is FDA approved, and this drug reduces the damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Professional side effects and drug interactions sections courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.