Emergency treatment may be required if myasthenia gravis seriously weakens your breathing or swallowing muscles.
What is an MG emergency?
Although it doesn’t happen often, a “myasthenic crisis” can occur if an MG patient’s breathing or swallowing muscles get so weak that breathing or swallowing is not sufficient. Emergency medical treatment may be needed to provide mechanical assistance with breathing. A myasthenic crisis can be triggered by a respiratory infection, fever, or an adverse reaction to medication. Breathing and swallowing problems also can occur if the patient takes too much Mestinon. This is called a “cholinergic crisis.” These events require immediate medical attention.
Notify you doctor if you have swallowing or breathing problems that don’t improve with prescribed medication. If these problems are worsening or severe, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room for help.
If swallowing or breathing problems are part of your MG symptoms, contact the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America for its pamphlets for family and emergency responders: Emergency Management I & II. You can order copies at www.myasthenia.org. Or call Conquer Myasthenia Gravis (800.888.6208) and we will mail copies to you. These pamphlets tell family and EMTs how to respond if you are ill.
What can you do to help emergency responders give you the best care if you’re in an accident?
- Keep an MG wallet card with you.
- Consider wearing medical ID jewelry.
- In Illinois, you also can keep important medical information in your car by using the Illinois Yellow Dot Program.
The Illinois Yellow Dot Program
Many states, including Illinois, now have a Yellow Dot program. This program gives first responders – police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians – critical medical information when caring for people involved in car crashes. Yellow Dot participants get a simple bright yellow decal for the back window of their vehicle. The yellow dot tells first responders there is a yellow folder in the glove compartment containing medical information about the motorists, including participant’s name, close-up photo, emergency contact information, doctor contact information and notes about medical conditions, allergies and current medications. You can get a Yellow Dot packet at various public health, police and firefighting departments throughout Illinois.
Because the initiative was new in 2012, you may want to visit your local fire or police department to make sure they know about it.
Last updated June 2016.
Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, February 2015.