1 What is Mucinex?

Brand: Allfen, Altarussin, Amibid LA, Antitussin, Bidex 400, Bronkaid, Cheratussin AC, Children’s Mucinex, Children’s Mucinex Cold, Children’s Mucinex Cough, Children’s Robitussin, Codar GF, Congestac, Diabetic Siltussin DAS-Na, Diabetic Tussin, Diabetic Tussin EX, Drituss G, Guaiatussin AC, Guiatuss, Guaifenex G, Guaifenex LA, Mucinex, Mucinex Cough, Mucinex D, Mucinex DM, Maximum Strength Mucinex, Maximum Strength Mucinex DM, Mucinex Fast-Max, Mucinex Sinus-Max, Mucinex Allergy, Pediacare, Primatene, Rescon-GG, Robitussin, Robitussin Peak, Robafen AC, Theraflu, Triaminic, Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe, Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom Severe, Vick’s Dayquil, Vick’s Formula 44, Vick’s Nature Fusion

Generic: Guaifenesin

Mucinex is an expectorant drug which is widely used to reduce cough and chest congestion caused by common colds, flu, allergies (such as hay fever), bronchitis, or other breathing problems. Mucinex also improves cough symptoms associated with influenza, laryngitis, measles, pharyngitis, pertussis, and coughs provoked by chronic sinusitis. It brings temporary relief of cough by thinning and loosening the mucus or phlegm in the air passages, clearing congestion, and generally making breathing easier. This medication is believed to increase bronchial secretion or reduce its viscosity, facilitating its removal by coughing.

A cough is a protective reflex, its purpose being the expulsion of respiratory secretions or foreign particles from air passages.

Coughing can be categorized as useful and useless.

Useless (nonproductive) coughing should be suppressed.

Useful (productive) coughs serve to drain the airway. Its suppression is not desirable and may even be harmful, except if the amount of expectoration achieved is small compared to the effort of continuous coughing.

If you are self-treating with Mucinex, it is important to know that such medications do not cure or shorten the length of the common cold. Also, this medication is usually not used for an ongoing cough from smoking or long-term breathing problems (such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema) unless directed by your doctor. You should very carefully read the package instructions before you start using Mucinex, and consult with your doctor, to be sure it is right for you.

Mucinex is available in the market as an over-the-counter medicine, and you can also receive it with a doctor's prescription. However, it is not recommended to give any over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicine to a baby or child under 4 years of age. Using these medicines in very young children might cause serious or possibly life-threatening side effects.

This drug comes alone and also in combination with antihistamines (e.g., chlorpheniramine), antitussives (e.g., dextromethorphan), bronchodilators (e.g., ephedrine), decongestants (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine), and other expectorants for the temporary relief of productive cough and/or other symptoms such as nasal congestion and so on.

Mucinex and its other brand names are available in the following dosage forms:

  • Capsule
  • Capsule, Extended Release
  • Elixir
  • Liquid
  • Dissolving granules in packets
  • Solution
  • Syrup
  • Tablet
  • Tablet, Extended-release

2 What to Know Before Using

If you are about to start drug therapy using Mucinex, the risk-benefit ratio of taking the drug should be considered carefully. If you are taking Mucinex long-term, this decision is usually made by a doctor with active participation of the patient. There are some important factors such as drug interactions, presence of any metabolic impairment, history of hypersensitivity reaction, pregnancy, lactation etc. that may alter the desired therapeutic effects of a medicine.

Sometimes the presence of other health disorders affects the beneficial effects of Mucinex and other medications, and may cause serious toxic effects. If you have had any allergic reactions to any medicine, then you must tell your doctor immediately.

The use of Mucinex is contraindicated in pregnancy, and in those who are hypersensitive to this drug or any of the ingredients of the formulation. Further, make sure you inform your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Because of drug-drug interactions, certain medicines should not be used while you're taking Mucinex. It is recommended to keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your physician. Besides, you should consult with him or her if you are in need of some other medications or even any over-the-counter medicine for another health problem in order to avoid unwanted toxic effects.

In addition, the following should be kept in mind:

  • Using this medicine together with tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), amphetamine-like psychostimulant, bretylium, bethanidine, guanethidine, methyldopa, adrenergic blocker, sedatives, or furazolidone is not recommended.
  • Further, the use of such medicinal products is contraindicated in persons under treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) within 2 weeks of stopping such treatment.
  • Using alcohol or tobacco with this medication may also cause certain interactions to occur.
  • In addition, Mucinex can affect the results of certain lab tests such as urine levels of certain acids and so on.
  • These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.

Safety in Pregnancy and Lactation

During pregnancy and lactation, the potential benefits should be weighed against the potential risks before taking this medication. Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus but there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Although animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly needed.

Besides, caution should be exercised when used in lactating women because there are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. On the contrary, an alternative to this medication can be used in such circumstances.

3 Proper Usage

The dosage schedule and the duration of drug therapy should be individualized and determined based on your physician’s advice. The therapeutic dose may also vary with the patient’s condition or requirement, and the strength of the medicine as well. This medicine comes with patient information. You should read the instructions carefully before using this medicine. However, the treatment schedule may vary depending upon the dosage forms of this medication.

Dosages and administrations of short-acting regular oral dosage forms (capsules, oral solution, syrup, or tablets) to relieve coughs:

  • Adults—200 to 400 milligrams (mg) every 4 hours.
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age—100 to 200 mg every 4 hours.
  • Children 4 to 6 years of age—50 to 100 mg every 4 hours.
  • Children and infants up to 4 years of age—Use is not recommended.

Dosages and administrations of long-acting oral dosage forms (extended-release capsules or tablets) to relieve coughs:

  • Adults—600 to 1200 mg every 12 hours.
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age—600 mg every 12 hours.
  • Children 4 to 6 years of age—300 mg every 12 hours.
  • Children and infants up to 4 years of age—Use is not recommended.

To use Mucinex, follow these guidelines:

Usually adults are advised to take this medication by mouth with or without food, as directed by your doctor, usually every 12 hours with a full glass of water, but not exceeding 2400 mg in 24 hours.

If you are self-treating, follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Dosage is based on your age, medical condition, and response to treatment. Do not take more than 2400 milligrams in 24 hours. Do not increase your dose or take this drug more often than directed.

Do not crush or chew this medication. Doing so can release the entire drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.

Drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication. Fluids will help to break up mucus and clear congestion.

For patients taking the tablet form of this medicine:

Do not crush, chew, or break the tablet. You should take this drug with a full glass of water. It can be administered without regard for the timing of meals. Children under 4 years of age are not recommended to use this product.

For patients taking the extended-release capsule form of this medicine:

Swallow the capsule whole, or open the capsule and sprinkle the contents on soft food such as applesauce, jelly, or pudding and swallow without crushing or chewing.

For patients taking the extended-release tablet form of this medicine

If the tablet has a groove in it, you may carefully break it into two pieces along the groove. Then swallow the pieces whole, without crushing or chewing them.

If the tablet does not have a groove, it must be swallowed whole. Do not break, crush, or chew it before swallowing.

You should use this medicine following all the directions given by your doctor. If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. You must not double the dose to catch up. Further, you are advised not to use this drug in larger amounts, more often, or for a longer time than your doctor ordered.

Further, it is advised to store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C) away from heat, moisture, and direct light. You should not store medicines in the bathroom. All kinds of medicines should be kept out of reach of children and pets. However, outdated medicines should be disposed by an appropriate way. You must not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so.

You should consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard medicinal products.

4 Precautions to Take

Firstly, regular visits to your doctor are recommended to check that this medicine is working properly or not.

Additionally, the following guidelines should be followed strictly to prevent unwanted complications as well as for the better prognosis of the patients:

Before using this medicine, check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to this drug or if you have any other medicine as well as food allergies.

Moreover, this product may contain certain inactive ingredients which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. If you have any questions regarding this matter, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, inform your doctor or pharmacist. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only if clearly needed. Also, It is unknown if this drug excretes through breast milk. You should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

You should ask your doctor before use if you have persistent or chronic cough associated with blood or too much phlegm (mucus) because these could be signs of a serious illness. Further, you should tell your doctor if you are suffering from asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, upper respiratory infection, or any breathing disorders.

These medicinal products may cause drowsiness and impair performance in tests of auditory vigilance. It may also impair the patient’s ability to drive and to use machinery. So, driving and operation of machinery should be avoided during treatment with such products.

You should not use this drug and check with your doctor if cough is associated with fever, rash, or persistent headache. Also, these could be signs of a serious medical condition.

This medication is intended for temporary use only. You should stop taking this medication and contact your doctor as soon as possible if cough persists for more than 7 days.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products.

This drug may affect the laboratory test results. Thus, make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.

Although there are no objective data, you should avoid the concomitant use of alcohol or other centrally acting sedatives.

Mucinex should be used with caution in patients taking antihypertensive agents, tricyclic antidepressants, or other sympathomimetic agents and amphetamine-like psychostimulants.

On the contrary, these products may affect the blood pressure of these patients. Thus, they should be observed before recommending repeated or unsupervised treatment.

As with other sympathomimetic agents, caution should be exercised in patients with hypertension, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, elevated intraocular pressure, and prostatic enlargement.

This drug should not be used for persistent or chronic cough that occurs with smoking, asthma, or emphysema; or where cough is accompanied by excessive secretions unless directed by a physician.

Additionally, you should not use any prescription or nonprescription medicines, herbal preparations, or dietary supplements without checking with your doctor.

5 Potential Side Effects

Along with the beneficial and positive intended effects, Mucinex may cause some unwanted and negative side effects that may not need any medical attention. These side effects usually go away during the treatment episode as your body adjusts to the new medicine. Your healthcare professional may advise you about the ways how to prevent or reduce those unwanted side effects. He or she will inform you of any side effects prior to your decision to start using Mucinex as a short-term treatment.

At any point, you may need to consult with the doctor if you notice any of the following toxic effects are excessive or worsen during your course of treatment.

The most common and least serious side effects associated with Mucinex are:

The least common but more serious side effects associated with Mucinex are:

  • Central nervous system (CNS) depression or excitation
  • Dryness of mouth, nose and throat
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Tachycardia

The following are considered to be rare side effects of Mucinex:

  • Hallucination
  • Urinary retention

Be sure to report any side effects to your doctor so that you can appropriately assess them or stop taking Mucinex if needed. Further action will need to be taken if any side effects worsen as you continue taking Mucinex temporarily. 

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction to this medicine are unlikely but may occur in certain individuals manifesting as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or troubled breathing. If you notice any other effects including symptoms like these, check with your healthcare professional right away.

If your doctor has suggested you to use this medication, remember that he or she has used their knowledge to determine that the benefit of the medication to you is greater than the risk of side effects. A majority of people using this medication do not experience serious side effects. You may call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. In addition, you may report any side effects no matter the severity to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 to add to their records.

If overdose is suspected, you need to admit yourself to receive medical help right away. You may contact a Poison Control Center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Before taking Mucinex, you must be aware of any drug allergies you have, and you must speak with your doctor about possible drug interactions with anything else you're currently taking. If necessary, your doctor may request that you complete testing before starting Mucinex, such as blood and urine testing, to check for any preexisting conditions or issues.

Also inform your doctor of any sudden dietary changes while taking Mucinex.

If you decide to take Mucinex for a longer period than suggested, be sure to first consult with your doctor as this may have an adverse effect on your health, and it may put you at a higher risk of experiencing unwanted negative side effects.