Mucus in the chest is a common result of bronchitis, allergies, post nasal drip and pneumonia. Choosing the right medication to reduce the amount of mucus in the chest depends on the condition causing it. A doctor should be seen for a proper diagnosis and treatment options, and over-the-counter medication should not be taken without first asking a physician, according to AskDrSears.com 1. Some over-the-counter medications can interfere with other medical conditions or drugs. Medications typically used for mucus in the chest include expectorants, antihistamines and cough suppressants 124.**
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Expectorants are the most common medication used to reduce the amount of mucus in the chest. These medications work by thinning mucus in the chest and providing lubrication so coughing is more productive, according to the University of Iowa. The most common expectorant drug is guaifenisin. Guaifenisin does not cause side effects in healthy adults, according to Drugs.com 3. This medication is intended to be taken with a full glass of water; otherwise the user risks dehydration. Expectorants are used to treat pneumonia and bronchitis. As the mucus becomes thinner, the user may cough more frequently, causing irritation in the throat. For this reason expectorants are commonly sold in combination with a cough suppressant.
- Expectorants are the most common medication used to reduce the amount of mucus in the chest.
- For this reason expectorants are commonly sold in combination with a cough suppressant.
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Antihistamines are used to treat allergic reactions and excessive mucus production 4. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine from being released in the body, according to FamilyDoctor.org, an information site produced by the American Academy of Family Physicians 4. Histamine is a result of an immune system hypersensitivity to an allergen. Histamine causes irritation in the sinuses, nose, chest and skin and can lead to allergy-induced asthma symptoms. Antihistamines are also used to dry up excessive mucus in the body and should not be used in combination with expectorants, according to the University of Iowa 24. Caution should be exercised when taking antihistamines because they can cause severe drowsiness, depending on the type used 4.
Cough suppressants are used to treat mucus in the chest because of constant coughing. One of the primary symptoms of chest congestion is coughing. Coughing is initiated because of mucus buildup in the lower portion of the throat. The body attempts to clear the throat through coughing but can result in irritation. A cough suppressant is different than an expectorant, although they are used in combination with one another. Cough suppressant drugs simply restrict the coughing reflex from functioning, according to the University of Iowa 2.
- Cough suppressants are used to treat mucus in the chest because of constant coughing.
- A cough suppressant is different than an expectorant, although they are used in combination with one another.
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- AskDrSears.com: Cold and Cough Medications
- University of Iowa: Expectorants vs. Cough Suppressants
- Drugs.com: Guaifensin
- FamilyDoctor.org: Antihistamines
- Bolser DC. Cough suppressant and pharmacologic protussive therapy: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2006;129(1 Suppl):238S–249S. doi:10.1378/chest.129.1_suppl.238S
- Wolf MS, King J, Jacobson K, et al. Risk of unintentional overdose with non-prescription acetaminophen products. J Gen Intern Med. 2012;27(12):1587–1593. doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2096-3
- Oduwole O, Udoh EE, Oyo-Ita A, Meremikwu MM. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4(4):CD007094. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.