Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
A Closer Look at a Common OTC Cold Remedy: How Does Mucinex Work?
Posted in Colds & Flu by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Oct 19, 2010
"I just started taking Mucinex and it's working well but I'm wondering how it actually works and where exactly does all the mucus go?"

You should wonder how this commonly used over-the-counter medication works. Patients often wonder whether over–the-counter cold medications work, or are they packaged sand. Mucinex is a medication many people get their hands on when suffering from an upper respiratory infection. The generic name for Mucinex is Guaifenesin which became available over–the- counter a few years ago.

Mucinex is known as an expectorant. What that means for you is that it should help relieve your congested, junky, rattling chest by bringing that cough up. Mucinex is also marketed under the names Diabetic Tussin, Humibid, Phanasin, Q-tussin, Robitussin Chest Congestion and Tussin among others.

So how does it work? Mucinex is thought to act as an expectorant by irritating the gastric mucosa and stimulating respiratory tract secretions, thereby increasing respiratory fluid volumes and decreasing mucous viscosity (thickness or stickiness). With a full glass of water, Mucinex is used to help loosen phlegm and thin bronchial secretions to make coughs more productive.

Side effects are rare but include dizziness, drowsiness, and headache and large quantities have been reported to cause kidney stones. It is not recommended that you use it longer than 7 days and do not use for persistent or chronic cough (as with smoking, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema) or while you are pregnant.

Dr O.

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fyi, it's also sometimes used to thin the mucus secretions to help in attempting pregnancy...

and for FM there's a protocol but you must read all about it because there are things you must avoid and there are a lot of them. Salicylates. REad up on it if you want to try that treatment.
By Narey  Oct 23, 2010
Can Mucinex get rid of nasal mucus and post nasal drip?
By grandmac  Oct 21, 2010
My doctor is a great believer in Mucinex and he always recommends it when I get bronchitis (fairly often.) I have always taken it faithfully, on schedule, and have noticed that without exception, it is just as effective as Dr. Orrange's aforementioned "sand."

Steam from a very hot shower works much better for me.
By madbookworm  Oct 20, 2010
It does work. I like it. I can breathe when I take it.
By ekatepnha  Oct 20, 2010
I always take it when flying, to counteract the dry airplane air and fight off the cough it would always give me. Used to be prone to bronchitis after every flight, but have not suffered a bout in years, thanks to Guaifenecin. It isn't for daily use, and you really do have to take a lot of water to help it work as designed.
By LKAukett  Oct 20, 2010
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