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Myasthenia Gravis

Chest congestion and MG

12/01/2008

Question:

Is it possible to have chest congestion and coughing relate to MG? I have had a congestion and coughing problem for 5 years and MG diagnosis for 2 years. Could these be related?

Answer:

Yes, chest congestion might be related to your myasthenia, but not directly. First, the disease decreases the strength of your chest wall muscles. Coughing and clearing secretions from the upper airways can be more difficult for patients with poorly controlled myasthenia. The coughing problem for five years is most likely not related to the myasthenia, unless you had undiagnosed bulbar myasthenia during this time period. More commonly, I see pyridostigmine (mestinon) cause an increase in pulmonary secretions, and it can cause tightening of the small airways. When a patient has COPD, I exercise caution with pyridostigmine and advise the patient about these specific side effects.

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Response by:

Robert W Neel, IV, MD Robert W Neel, IV, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati