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Expectorants; What they do and its types

An expectorant is a substance that loosens the mucus in the airways to allow for easier removal. It can be used by patients with cold, flu, allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. An expectorant is most often available in tablet or syrup form. Some of these are commonly found on pharmacy shelves, while others are only available through a prescription from your doctor. There are many different expectorants, but they all have one purpose: to help you breathe more easily when suffering from respiratory ailments.

There are two types: mucolytics, which break down thickened mucus, and expectorants, which stimulate coughing to bring up thicker mucus. Expectorants can be found in lozenges, and Mucolytics can also be found in cough syrup. These drugs work by dissolving the so-called “mucous plug” that blocks airways during an infection.

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Medicinal vs. natural expectorant

Some common medicinal expectorants include guaifenesin and potassium iodide, and some natural expectorants include Menthol and Ivy leaf extract.

Guaifenesin is a substance that was first synthesized in 1881. It has been used for many purposes, including as an expectorant, diuretic, and mucolytic agent. Guaifenesin works by thinning the mucus in your airways to make it easier to cough out of your lungs.

Potassium iodide is also a substance that was first synthesized in the 1800s. It’s typically taken orally to reduce or prevent thyroid cancer due to radioactive iodine exposure after a nuclear emergency or accident.

Menthol is a natural chemical from plants belonging to the mint family and is often found in cough syrup or lozenges. This soothing ingredient can relieve sore throats because methanol has been shown to relax airways muscles allowing more room inside your respiratory system, which helps alleviate colds.

Dry ivy extract may be a promising remedy for coughs since it has been shown to help loosen up the mucous in your body and make you feel better. This plant medicine could also treat productive respiratory tract infections, such as those caused by cold or flu viruses.

         Expectorants: Side effects and risks involved

It is essential to understand the side effects and risks involved with using expectorants. The most common side effect of these drugs is dry mouth; however, there are other risks that you should be aware of before taking them. For example, some people experience rapid heart rate or constipation when taking an expectorant medication like guaifenesin. After taking this type of drug, you may also find that your urine turns dark yellow or brown, but this isn’t usually anything to worry about unless you have other symptoms, such as lower back pain or smelly urine. However, some common side effects using guaifenesin or potassium iodide include; Nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, headache, rash, confusion, sore gums, fatigue, muscle weakness, and excessive salivation.

When you stop taking an expectorant medication, your cough will return in full force because the fluids brought up from deep inside your chest won’t be removed anymore.

Dosage form and strength Guaifenesin


  • 200mg contains 200mg guaifenesin per tablet.
  • 400mg contains 400mg guaifenesin per tablet.

Extended-release tablets

  • 600mg contains6200mg guaifenesin per extended relase tablet.
  • 1200mg contains 1200mg guaifenesin per extended relase tablet.

Oral Syrup

  • 100mg/5mL contains 100mg guaifenesin per 5ml syrup.


  • 100mg/5mL contains 100mg guaifenesin per 5ml liquid.
  • 200mg/5mL contains 200mg guaifenesin per 5ml liquid.


  • 50mg contains 50mg guaifenesin per packet.
  • 100mg contains 100mg guaifenesin per packet.

Potassium iodide Tablets

  • 65mg contains 65mg potassium iodide per tablet.
  • 135mg contains 135mg potassium iodide per tablet.

Oral solution

  • 65mg/mL contains 65mg potassium iodide per ml oral solution.
  • 325mg/5mL contains 325mg potassium iodide per 5ml oral solution.

Concentrated oral solution.

  • 1g/ml contains 1g potassium iodide per ml oral solution.

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