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guaifenesin (glyceryl guaiacolate)

Balminil Expectorant (CA), Benilyn Childrens Chesty Coughs (UK), Benylin-E (CA), Calmylin Expectorant (CA), Diabetic Tussin EX, Genatuss, Koffex Expectorant (CA), Mucinex, Organidin NR, Phanacin XPECT, Pneumomist, Resyl (CA), Robitussin, Robitussin Chesty Cough (UK), Scot-tussin Expectorant, Siltussin SA, Tixylix Chesty Cough (UK), Venos for Kids (UK), Vicks Vaposyrup for Chesty Coughs (UK)

Pharmacologic class: Propanediol derivative

Therapeutic class: Expectorant

Pregnancy risk category C


Exerts vasoconstrictive action that leads to decreased edema and congestion. Also increases respiratory secretions and reduces mucus viscosity.


Capsules: 200 mg

Oral solution: 100 mg/5 ml, 200 mg/5 ml

Syrup: 100 mg/5 ml

Tablets: 100 mg, 200 mg, 400 mg

Tablets (extended-release): 600 mg

Indications and dosages

Cough due to upper respiratory tract infection

Adults: 200 to 400 mg P.O. q 4 hours (not to exceed 2,400 mg/day), or 600 to 1,200 mg P.O. (extended-release tablets) q 12 hours (not to exceed 2,400 mg/day)

Children ages 6 to 12: 100 to 200 mg P.O. q 4 hours (not to exceed 1,200 mg/day), or 600 mg P.O. (extended-release) q 12 hours (not to exceed 1,200 mg/day)

Children ages 2 to 6: 50 to 100 mg P.O. q 4 hours (not to exceed 600 mg/day)


• Hypersensitivity to drug

• Alcohol intolerance (with some products)


Use cautiously in:

• diabetes mellitus, cough lasting more than 1 week or accompanied by fever, rash, or headache

• patients receiving disulfiram concurrently

• pregnant patients.


• Give with full glass of water.

Adverse reactions

CNS: headache, dizziness

GI: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain

Skin: rash, urticaria


Drug-diagnostic tests. Urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, vanillylmandelic acid: inaccurate results

Patient monitoring

• Assess cough quality and productivity. Reevaluate treatment if cough persists and is accompanied by fever or headache.

Patient teaching

• Tell patient to take with 8 oz of water and to drink plenty of fluids.

• Instruct patient to contact prescriber if cough lasts more than 1 week.

• Caution patient to avoid driving and other hazardous activities until he knows how drug affects concentration and alertness.

• As appropriate, review all other significant adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the tests mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill Nurse's Drug Handbook, 7th Ed. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


(gwye-fen-e-sin) ,

Alfen Jr

(trade name),


(trade name),

Balminil Expectorant

(trade name),

Benylin Chest Congestion Extra Strength

(trade name),


(trade name),

Bronchophan Expectorant

(trade name),

Chest Congestion

(trade name),

Cough Syrup Expectorant

(trade name),

Diabetic Tussin

(trade name),

Expectorant Syrup

(trade name),

Ganidin NR

(trade name),


(trade name),


(trade name),


(trade name),

Jack & Jill Expectorant

(trade name),


(trade name),

Naldecon Senior EX

(trade name),

Organidin NR

(trade name),


(trade name),

Scot-tussin Expectorant

(trade name),

Siltussin SA

(trade name),

Siltussin DAS

(trade name),

Vicks Chest Congestion Relief

(trade name),

Vicks Dayquil Mucus Control

(trade name)


Therapeutic: allergy cold cough remedies
Pregnancy Category: C


Coughs associated with viral upper respiratory tract infections.


Reduces viscosity of tenacious secretions by increasing respiratory tract fluid.

Therapeutic effects

Mobilization and subsequent expectoration of mucus.


Absorption: Well absorbed after oral administration.
Distribution: Unknown.
Metabolism and Excretion: Renally excreted as metabolites.
Half-life: Unknown.

Time/action profile (expectorant action)

PO30 min unknown4–6 hr
PO-ERunknownunknown12 hr


Contraindicated in: Hypersensitivity;Some products contain alcohol; Avoid in patients with known intolerance;Some products contain aspartame and should be avoided in patients with phenylketonuria.
Use Cautiously in: Cough lasting >1 wk or accompanied by fever, rash, or headache;Patients receiving disulfiram (liquid products may contain alcohol);Diabetic patients (some products may contain sugar); Obstetric: Although safety has not been established, guaifenesin has been used without adverse effects; Pediatric: OTC cough and cold products containing this medication should be avoided in children <4 yr.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Central nervous system

  • dizziness
  • headache


  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting


  • rash
  • urticaria


Drug-Drug interaction

None significant.


Oral (Adults) 200–400 mg q 4 hr or 600–1200 mg q 12 hr as extended-release product (not to exceed 2400 mg/day).
Oral (Children 6–12 yr) 100–200 mg q 4 hr or 600 mg q 12 hr as extended-release product (not to exceed 1200 mg/day).
Oral (Children 4–6 yr) 50–100 mg q 4 hr (not to exceed 600 mg/day).

Availability (generic available)

Syrup: 100 mg/5 mLOTC
Oral solution: 100 mg/5 mLRx, OTC, 200 mg/5 mLOTC
Capsules: 200 mgOTC
Tablets: 100 mgOTC, 200 mgRx, OTC, 1200 mg
Extended-release tablets (Mucinex): 600 mg, 1200 mg
In combination with: analgesics/antipyretics, antihistamines, decongestants, and cough suppressantsRx, OTC.

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Assess lung sounds, frequency and type of cough, and character of bronchial secretions periodically during therapy. Maintain fluid intake of 1500–2000 mL/day to decrease viscosity of secretions.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Ineffective airway clearance (Indications)


  • Do not confuse guaifenesin with guanfacine. Do not confuse Mucinex with Mucomyst.
  • Oral: Administer each dose of guaifenesin followed by a full glass of water to decrease viscosity of secretions.
    • Extended-release tablets should be swallowed whole; do not open, break, crush, or chew.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Instruct patient to cough effectively. Patient should sit upright and take several deep breaths before attempting to cough.
  • Caution parents to avoid OTC cough and cold products while breast feeding or administering to children <4 yrs.
  • Inform patient that drug may occasionally cause dizziness. Avoid driving or other activities requiring alertness until response to drug is known.
  • Advise patient to limit talking, stop smoking, maintain moisture in environmental air, and take some sugarless gum or hard candy to help alleviate the discomfort caused by a chronic nonproductive cough.
  • Instruct patient to contact health care professional if cough persists longer than 1 wk or is accompanied by fever, rash, or persistent headache or sore throat.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Easier mobilization and expectoration of mucus from cough associated with upper respiratory infection.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners


A trademark for the drug guaifenesin, sometimes combined with cough suppressants or decongestants.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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