Dumb question about OTC cold medications

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by donna723, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Someone please explain to me how MucinexDM can be both a "cough suppressant" and an "expectorant"? Are those two things not opposites? I've always assumed that a "cough suppressant" keeps you from coughing and an "expectorant" makes you cough, loosens up the gunk in your chest so you can cough it up and get rid of it! Would those two things not be working against each other? See, I told you it was a dumb question!

    After not having a real cold for years, I came down with this mess last Sunday and this is the first day that I think I just might live! I think the worst of it is over now, the runny nose, sneezing and watering eyes are gone but I still have all the congestion and chest tightness ... I can hear myself breathe! So I bought the Mucinex and I took it but I'm not sure what it's supposed to do.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Here's what was explained to me- it's a decongestant because it loosens mucus but is supposed to stop the excess itching and so forth that causes 'ineffective' and excessive coughing- so after a couple of doses, you might cough occasionally but the cough would only be to get the congestion out- it wouldn't be the constant type that makes your throat so sore or keeps you awake at night. It's a pretty effective medication for most people and safer for kids with mood disorders than typical antihistamines taken with regular cough medication. - but it works on chest congestion- I don't know about sinuses.

    Make sure if you take it that you don't take another medication- like sudafed or an allergy medication that has a decongestant in it too- according to my dr.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Not a dumb question. OUr doctor always says not to buy combined medications because what you said is exactly what happens. They can cancel eachother out. He said to by individual ingredients and use the cough suppressant at night so you can sleep. Then the expectorant during the day so you can get the junk out.

    I dont know the ingredients of what you are talking about but maybe you are just smarter than they think the consumer really is.
  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    At first I thought it was just my usual allergy stuff but it went on several days. Most of the sinus and nasal mess is over now but it seems to have settled in my chest. For a while there the constant drainage kept me up half the night coughing till my ribs were sore! It was more that annoying "tickle" and irritation in my throat. Now I'm just trying to get rid of the gunk in my chest. I know I'm whining but I haven't been really sick in years and I had forgotten just how wretched it can make you feel!
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think she recommended the right thing- that's what they recommended for my son for the EXACT same symptoms. I had it too but I take allegra-d and when I asked my dr if I couldn't just take the mucinex-d like was recommended for my son, that's when she explained all that. He was on an antihistamine but not a decongestant so they took one route with him; she told me take plain mucinex, without the decongestant because it's not good too get too much of that in your system.

    You bought the mucinex-d, right? Not the 'plain' one? Give it a couple of days- then call if it doesn't help. They can rx you the psudophedrine(sp) by itself for bad chest congestion/bronchitis.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Cough suppressants keep you from coughing. They stop the body from reacting to the mucus that it wants to cough out.

    Decongestants make the snot thinner, less thick and gunky, just like adding a little more water to batter to get a thinner pancake.

    Antihistamines suppress the body's reaction to allergens and they make mucus thicker.

    Expectorants make the mucus less sticky. they don't make you cough more or less or keep your body from reacting to allergens. Mucinex is often used with cough suppressant because it makes you able to sleep and makes your body able to get the gunk out easier.

    Cough suppressants are what the kids are using to get high "legally" now, and that is annoying because if it keeps up we will have to ask the pharmacist for them too. OK is the state that started the whole have to ask the pharmacist for the sudafed thing and while that worked and is good, it is also annoying as all heck when you are sick and the pharmacy is closed and that other stuff does NOTHING for you.

    Think of the expectorant as making coughs more efficient so you don't need as much. If you have ever made roll out sugar cookies, expectorant would be the extra flour you add and cover the table with so the dough doesn't stick.

    That is why they are often rx'd in combo.

    I STRONGLY advocate single ingredient cold medications for this reason. husband wants nyquil or a medication that is all in one because he HATES taking medications and often will only take one or another and not the different ones based on his symptoms. The kids and I take one pill or dose for each kind we need. Given thank you's asthma, I am SOOOO glad he doesn't balk at medications because when he gets a cold he needs them all but can't handle the all in one medications because they upset his stomach.
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    It used to be so easy! I remember years ago if I got a cold, I would get a package of good ol' Contac(?) capsules and start taking them. After the first day you could hardly tell that you had a cold! That stuff really worked! And it wasn't that long ago that when my allergies and sinus problems kicked up, I could get the Tylenol Allergy Sinus pills, little green & yellow capsules, take a couple, and within a half hour my sinuses were clear and the headache was gone. But not any more! Makes me so mad! Now I have no idea what to take and nothing seems to work as well as the things that were available a few years ago.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Other things that help include:
    - sleeping with upper-body elevated... either raise the head of the bed, or sleep in a laz-y-boy type recliner (hospital bed works too, but most of us don't have those!)
    - moisture in the air - around here, winter comes, furnaces come on, and air gets dry - upping the humidity a bit helps
    - make sure you drink LOTS of fluids
    - get extra sleep and take all the pampering you are offered...
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love the regular old sudafed. The best thing that ever worked. I hate that they took it behind the counter. When I go buy it, I buy the biggest box I can get so I have it at home. I also get the either the icy blue tylenol cold and flu night time medicine because it works well for me and I like how it tastes. It is very icy minty. Also the plop plop fizz fizz one is good.

    If you happen to have any pain pills...vicodin,lorcet...pop one of those at night before you go to bed and they will help with the coughing. Codeine is the best cough suppressant around. Well other than morphine. I shouldnt even have a cough...lol.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Janet, lol! Actually whiskey is the best cough suppressant. Followed by opiates (codeine, morphine, etc...) I can't STAND liquid cold medications. But I agree on reg old sudafed. Dang addicts, make life hard for the rest of us with colds.

    The docs here won't give a kid pain medications even for really BAD things like broken bones. But let them have a cough and you get 8-10-14 oz of liquid codeine and if you ask why they are all over you about addiction not being the issue, etc... So a kid can hobble on a cracked leg with aleve but nothing else and let them have a cough - that MOM hears at home and no one at the doctors' office ever hears and they get all the codeine they want. Makes NO sense. Of course it IS good for coughs, but i have seen parents parade kids through the doctor's office wehre I KNOW the kid never coughed one time and they give them all the codeine they can. It is another reason why we see a country doctor NOT the in town peds practice. Our doctor will give us codeine for coughs, but he has to HEAR it and see signs of a problem, not just have mom say. He trusts mom, will go by my say so on a lot of things. Just not addictive medications. Plus he actually can reliable quote studies on various things including home remedies, whether various medications work, etc..... I don't always like what he says, but I always respect his knowledge because I have double checked the research he has discussed on quite a few things.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well I cant take liquor for coughs...lol but Tonys dad used to use moonshine with either peppermint candy dissolved in it or rock candy dissolved it in. I imagine that worked pretty well too. If nothing else it knocked the kids slam out.
  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was actually looking at the Mucinex products today waiting for difficult child's antibiotic prescription. The doctor told her to take Mucinex DM but she can't take anything with dextromethorphen so I had to read all the labels and talk to the pharmicist to figure out which one she could take that wouldn't jeopardize her recovery. We were left with plain Mucinex.

    Most all cough medications are not allowed, makes it tough when you are trying to treat a cough.

  13. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    That's what I ended up getting was the Micinex DM. I've been taking it since yesterday and now it's hard to tell what is from the "cold" I've got and what's from the medication! All I know is that without it, I stay in the "cough till you puke" stage and with it, it's a little better but I still don't want to move off the sofa! I'm in to Day Seven of this mess with no end in sight.

  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    It will take a few days but you should be able to tell by now if it's loosening up and your coughs are starting to get it out. I hope you are feeling better soon! I have been diagnosis'd with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and stay on an antihitamine and psuedophedrine daily to prevent that koi- a low dose but it's all that works for me.
  15. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    donna I didn't read the other replies so forgive me if I repeat someone.

    The cough suppressant works to prevent unproductive coughing, so you can both rest and so your muscles aren't so sore that you can't cough up the phlegm when necessary. The expectorant part helps with coughing it out by loosening up the mucous.

    If you're trying to sleep, I suggest just using a cough suppressant. Because you really need to rest when you can.

    Remember to drink lots of water. It helps thin out the mucous making it easier to get rid of.

    Hope you feel better soon.