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What is Mucinex®?

Mucinex® is a popular over-the-counter medication designed to alleviate chest congestion and help clear out mucus build-up in the respiratory tract. It contains the active ingredient guaifenesin, which works by thinning the mucus, making it easier to cough up. Intrigued by how it can ease your cold symptoms? Discover the visual journey of Mucinex® in action within our article.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Mucinex® is a brand name medication sold over the counter in most places. It actually comes in a couple of forms and there may be versions sold for children or products like Mucinex D®, which contains additional medicines. The standard type of this drug employs a medication called guaifenesin, which is also used in many other cough and cold medicines.

The principal action of guaifenesin is to thin secretions in the throat and bronchi, allowing extra mucus to exit the airway. Essentially, it is an expectorant, which can help when cough or chest congestion are bad. One of the differences between Mucinex® and other cough medicines that use guaifenesin is that the guaifenesin is in an extended release formula.

Mucinex can prevent the build up of mucus in the lungs that causes coughing.
Mucinex can prevent the build up of mucus in the lungs that causes coughing.

People normally only take this medicine twice daily, and might get the same amount of coverage they’d achieve taking many forms of Robitussin® four to six times a day. An added plus for many people is that this medication is sold in tablets instead of liquid, eliminating the “yucky medicine” factor that is associated with having to take cough syrup.

Mucinex is used to thin mucus in the throat and bronchi.
Mucinex is used to thin mucus in the throat and bronchi.

Perhaps, one of the reasons that Mucinex® is popular is due to its low incidence of side effects. Most people don’t experience any significant side effects when they take this drug, except some may notice a small amount of dry mouth. It is possible to have a severe allergic reaction to guaifenesin, which could include hives, and difficulty breathing. This should be treated as a medical emergency, though it should be noted that it is rare.

Mucinex D contains psueudoephedrine, a decongestant.
Mucinex D contains psueudoephedrine, a decongestant.

While side effect profile of this medication is low, there are a few side effects that people may encounter. These are chiefly stomach upset, nausea or vomiting. It is thought taking Mucinex® with food may reduce incidence of this occurring. If this does not help, it’s recommended people discuss any planned continued use with their physicians.

Discussing side effects becomes complicated if other types of Mucinex® are considered. The D type, which stands for decongestant, also contains pseudoephedrine. This medication is contraindicated in a number of scenarios, and should never be taken by people with high blood pressure or those who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a form of antidepressant. Other contraindications may apply and people should check with their doctors, speak with a pharmacist, or, at the very least, read labels carefully.

People who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for depression should not use Mucinex.
People who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for depression should not use Mucinex.

There are a number of off-label uses for Mucinex® and it’s recommended people check with their doctors prior to trying any of these. For instance, professional singers may use the drug when they perform in different types of humidity. Sometimes guaifenesin is used as part of asthma care, or to control conditions like gout. Perhaps most unusual is the claim that the secretion thinning properties of the drug increase needed secretions to attain pregnancy. There are studies, though no proof exists, that guaifenesin may facilitate pregnancy.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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    • Mucinex can prevent the build up of mucus in the lungs that causes coughing.
      By: ramonespelt
      Mucinex can prevent the build up of mucus in the lungs that causes coughing.
    • Mucinex is used to thin mucus in the throat and bronchi.
      By: Szabolcs Szekeres
      Mucinex is used to thin mucus in the throat and bronchi.
    • Mucinex D contains psueudoephedrine, a decongestant.
      By: Arvind Balaraman
      Mucinex D contains psueudoephedrine, a decongestant.
    • People who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for depression should not use Mucinex.
      By: themalni
      People who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for depression should not use Mucinex.
    • Nausea and vomiting are possible side effects of taking Mucinex.
      By: Alliance
      Nausea and vomiting are possible side effects of taking Mucinex.
    • An off-label use for Mucinex® may be treating gout.
      By: p6m5
      An off-label use for Mucinex® may be treating gout.
    • Mucinex can help relieve chest congestion.
      By: Aleksandar Todorovic
      Mucinex can help relieve chest congestion.