Guaifenesin is a type of cough medication known as an expectorant used to treat chesty coughs. A build-up of thick mucus (phlegm) in your airways can be one of the causes of a chesty cough. Your respiratory system produces mucus every day that helps protect and lubricate your airways. However, during viral infections such as colds and flu, your respiratory system can produce too much mucus, leading to an annoying productive cough.
You can buy guaifenesin from your pharmacy either on its own or in combination with other medications for colds and flu. There are various products available. Examples include Robitussin, Mucinex and many others.
Occasionally a cough can be a symptom of a more serious problem. You should speak to your doctor if you have had a cough for more than three weeks, have severe symptoms such as fever, coughing up blood, have lost weight unexpectedly, or have chest pain or shortness of breath.
Guaifenesin is suitable for adults and children aged four and above. However, the age restrictions and dosing instructions can vary between different guaifenesin products, so make sure you follow the specific guidance for the product you have purchased.
Expectorants like guaifenesin are thought to work by thinning and loosening the mucus in your chest and throat by increasing the amount of fluid produced in your airways. This makes it easier to cough any mucus up.
Do not take guaifenesin if you are allergic to guaifenesin or another ingredient listed in the medicine. Children under four should not take guaifenesin. If you avoid ingesting alcohol in any form, please note that some guaifenesin products do contain small amounts of alcohol in their formulation.
Speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking guaifenesin if you: are pregnant or breastfeeding, have liver or kidney problems, or have asthma or diabetes, as it may not be suitable for you.
Guaifenesin is unlikely to interact with other medications. However, you should not take guaifenesin if you are already taking another cough medicine. Guaifenesin may also interfere with some urine tests. If you are due to have any urine tests done, make sure you tell the healthcare professional carrying out the test that you are taking guaifenesin.
As with all medications, some people may experience side effects. These can include nausea and vomiting, and stomach discomfort. You should speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about any side effects.
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