Mestinon is classified as a cholinesterase inhibitor and is prescribed to treat an autoimmune disease that affects your voluntary muscles called myasthenia gravis. It is believed that myasthenia gravis is a result of your thymus gland secreting immune cells that interfere with your body’s nerve transmission signals which can cause a distortion and affect your ability to contract certain muscles. Some treatments for myasthenia gravis have included immunosuppressant drugs or other cholinesterase inhibitor meds if your current treatment is not working as well as hoped.
When taken as directed, Mestinon, or generic Pyridostigmine stops the breakdown of acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the induction of smooth muscle contractions. This allows your body an increased level of acetylcholine so you are able to have more control over your eye movements, swallowing, and breathing. Mestinon is not a cure for myasthenia gravis, but it can help you gain more smooth muscle control so you are able to continue on with your daily schedule. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Nerves in your body send messages to muscles via acetylcholine (ACh) which binds to receptors on that muscle membrane, instructing it to contract. In those with myasthenia gravis, the antibodies that mistakenly believe there is a threat, bind to your muscle’s membrane and block the acetylcholine. This means the muscle does not receive the signal from nerves that it needs to contract. Myasthenia gravis most commonly occurs in women under 40 years of age, and men over 60.
Although there is little data on the effects of Mestinon during pregnancy or breast feeding, you should advise your doctor if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing before taking it. Discuss other medical conditions and allergies you have and all OTC and Rx medication you are taking, including herbal remedies and dietary or vitamin supplements so your doctor can determine if Mestinon is safe for you to take. Certain drugs can change the efficacy of Mestinon as well as increase the risk of side effects so you should not change your dosage or start new meds without talking to your doctor first.
If you are scheduled for surgery or dental treatment, make it known that you are taking Mestinon as you may be asked to stop taking it before any surgical procedures to avoid interactions with anesthetic and other medications used during that time. It takes 30-60 minutes for Mestinon to start working and the effects should last for 4-6 hours. If you find there is little to no improvement for your symptoms of myasthenia gravis, see your doctor and do not change your own dosage.