Prescription Drugs   Non-Prescription Drugs

Expectorants are drugs that loosen and clear mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract.

The drug described here, Guaifenesin, is a common ingredient in cough medicines. It is classified as an expectorant, a medicine that helps clear mucus and other secretions from the respiratory tract. However, some debate exists about how effectively Guaifenesin does this. In addition, some cough medicines contain other ingredients that may cancel out Guaifenesin's effects. Cough Suppressants such as Codeine, for example, work against Guaifenesin because they discourage coughing up the secretions that the expectorant loosens.

There are other ways to loosen and clear the respiratory secretions associated with colds. These include using a humidifier and drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Guaifenesin is an ingredient in many cough medicines, such as anti--Tuss, Dristan Cold & Cough, Guaifed, GuaiCough, and some Robitussin products. Some products that contain Guaifenesin are available only with a physician's prescription; others can be bought without a prescription. They come in several forms, including capsules, tablets, and liquids.