Everything You Need to Know About Mucinex

What is Mucinex (Guaifenesin)?

Mucinex is a brand name for a medication called guaifenesin. In the United States guaifenesin is sold over-the-counter and is in a class of medications called expectorants. Guaifenesin is used to treat congestion, it does this by breaking up and thinning mucous in the chest and throat so that it is (hypothetically) easier to cough out and expel. Mucinex is typically used by individuals who are congested because they are suffering from a common cold, the flu, or allergies but it can be prescribed by a doctor for other reasons.

Guaifenesin works to relieve the symptoms of these conditions but does nothing to treat the root cause of congestion or decrease the overall time of these illnesses.

Guaifenesin is also a centrally acting muscle relaxant and is sometimes used in veterinary medicine for this purpose. It is also used off-label for the treatment of fibromyalgia, despite a lack of scientific evidence to support its use for this illness.

Guaifenesin is sold by itself or as one of the several ingredients in many cough and cold preparations. Other names for this medication or preparations containing this medication include but are not limited to:

  • Mucinex
  • Mucinex DM
  • Maximum Strength Mucinex DM
  • Mucinex D
  • Maximum Strength Mucinex D
  • Children's Mucinex
  • Mucinex for Kids
  • Maximum Strength Mucinex
  • Mucinex Mini-Melts (for kids)
  • Mucinex Cold Liquid
  • Mucinex Cough Liquid

How is Mucinex Taken?

Mucinex comes in a variety of forms including tablets and liquids and even dissolving granules.

You should follow the directions on the package carefully regardless of which form of the medication you are using. Consult your doctor or pharmacist and inform them of any medications you are currently taking as well as any allergies to medications you have before trying Mucinex. If you are using an extended release preparation the tablets should not be cut, crushed, or chewed but taken whole.

You should drink plenty of water with this medication. This medication can typically be taken with or without food.

A typical adult dose of Mucinex is 1-2 600mg tablets every 12 hours, or 1 maximum strength tablet (1200mg) every 12 hours. The package directions should be followed very closely when giving Mucinex to children since the dose will vary based on the child's age and weight as well as the preparation used. Mucinex should not be given to children under the age of 4 years.

You should talk to your doctor before taking this medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have kidney or liver disease, or if your cough may be caused by an illness other than an upper respiratory infection or allergies, (for example, emphysema or COPD).

What are the Side Effects of Mucinex?

Guaifenesin is generally well tolerated and considered safe to use but like all medication may cause side effects. The most common side effects associated with this medication are:

  • nausea
  • vomiting

Less common side effects of this medication include:

  • drowsiness
  • skin rash
  • headache

This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects that may occur with the use of this medication.

You should discontinue this medication, contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to this medication which could include:

  • swelling, itching, or redness of the face
  • tongue swelling
  • difficulty talking or breathing
  • skin rash or hives

You should also contact your doctor if your cough persists longer than 7 days or if it is accompanied by a fever that does not go away.

In case of accidental overdose call Poison Control 1-800-222-1222


Drugs.com. Guaifenesin. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://www.drugs.com/pro/guaifenesin-nr.html

E Medicine Health. Guaifenesin. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/drug-guaifenesin_oral/article_em.htm#whatis

Medline Plus. Guaifenesin. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682494.html

Merck Manuals. Skeletal Muscle Spasmolytics. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/pharmacology/systemic_pharmacotherapeutics_of_the_muscular_system/skeletal_muscle_spasmolytics.html 404

Mucinex.com. Mucinex Products. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://professional.mucinex.com/index.php

PubMed Health. Guaifenesin. Accessed: February 25, 2015 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0044712/#DDIC601929.side_effects_section

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