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Doctor insights on: What Is The Difference Between An Expectorant And A Cough Suppressant

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What are the differences between a cough suppressant and an expectorant?

What are the differences between a cough suppressant and an expectorant?

Stops vs thins: An expectorant is a medicine that thins out mucous, making it easier to mobilize and get out. Usually you'll see Guaifenesin as the active ingredient. A cough suppressant stops the body from wanting to cough. This can be ok at night, since you're not supposed to cough anyways, but not a good idea during the day, so mucous keeps moving. Of course, neither is ok for children until at least 4 to 6 y. ...Read more

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Dr. Sue Ferranti
3,525 doctors shared insights

Cough (Definition)

The cough reflex is a protective mechanism that uses muscles in your throat and chest to expel mucous and saliva that may contain pathogens that would otherwise possibly be inhaled via aerosol or to expel pathogens infecting the throat and respiratory system. Cough benefits the host by reducing load and benefits the pathogen which may then spread via aerosol. ...Read more


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What is better at night - cough suppressant or expectorant?

What is better at night - cough suppressant or expectorant?

Depends...: The cough etiology needs to be diagnosed so that it can be treated. Neither an expectorant nor suppressant treats the underlying etiology and both can be harmful in certain situations. So, you need to be evaluated by your doctor to determine the etiology of your cough and to render appropriate therapy. If you smoke, you need to quit to decrease airway inflammation, a contributing factor. ...Read more

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When taking a cough suppressant should you always take an expectorant? I've seen & been told mixed answers. Thanks

When taking a cough suppressant should you always take an expectorant? I've seen & been told mixed answers. Thanks

No!: An expectorant helps loosen the mucus and make it less sticky so you can cough it out more readily. On the other hand, a cough suppressant suppresses your lungs ability to cough and get rid of the mucus! You may ask yourself why package them together in the same pill or liquid? That's due to our Republican Congress not wanting to interfere with the greatest medical system in the world. ...Read more

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How can a nighttime cough medication be both a cough suppressant and an expectorant?

How can a nighttime cough medication be both a cough suppressant and an expectorant?

In the lungs nothing: Between the lungs (in the "mediastinum") there is a proliferation of scar tissue that can lead to coonstriction of the large central vessels and airways leading into the lung. The cause is often blamed on a fungal infection, but in some people the cause is unknown. ...Read more

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What is the best cough expectorant? I don't want a cough suppressant because i want to get the mucous out.

What is the best cough expectorant? I don't want a cough suppressant because i want to get the mucous out.

Water: Drink clear fuids---such as water, apple juice, pear juice or white grape juice. These fluids will thin mucus. Milk, orange juice etc will thicken mucus. Showers will help to thin mucus also--2 or 3 a day till better. Saline nasal spray or saline sinus lavage will also help. Feel better. ...Read more

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Minor cough itchy throat started last week after i took expectorant/cough suppressant combination medicine to loosen mucus. Did the medicine cause it?

Minor cough itchy throat started last week after i took expectorant/cough suppressant combination medicine to loosen mucus. Did the medicine cause it?

Doubt it.: You took the med because you began to have symptoms and thus the worsening is a progression of whatever started your coughing in the first place. If the duration is over 2 weeks or the problem is worsening, see your family doc. ...Read more

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When should we use cough expectorant or antitussive?

When should we use cough expectorant or antitussive?

Two conditions: Are cold or bronchitis. There are 3 types of cough medicines: topical, suppressant and expectorants. Unfortunately there is no a quick fix to treat the cough. Do not use these agents for cough that occurs with smoking, asthma or chronic pulmonary condition. ...Read more

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1 week dry cough, with sometimes (once or twice a day) brown phlegm. Should i buy an expectorant or antitussive?

1 week dry cough, with sometimes (once or twice a day) brown phlegm. Should i buy an expectorant or antitussive?

Cough: Do you have fever or chills? Any chest pain? You might need to get a cxr to exclude the possibility of having pneumonia since the treatment will be of antibiotics. It is possible also that you have allergic symptoms or even asthma. I would rather give a treatment of the cause of the cough than the cough itself. ...Read more

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Whatis the different between expectorant, mucolytic and antitussive?

Whatis the different between expectorant, mucolytic and antitussive?

Lets see?: Expectorants and mucolytics tend to loosen up thick mucous and allow you to expectorate (spit up and out). Anti-tussives help to suppress coughs. Cough is good to get inflammation and infections out of the bronchial tubes. If annoying, then antitussives may help to get some sleep. Drink lots of water, use a humidifier and rest. Stay at home. ...Read more

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Why don't more cold meds include an expectorant? It seems like cough suppressants would just prolong things by keeping mucus inside.

Why don't more cold meds include an expectorant? It seems like cough suppressants would just prolong things by keeping mucus inside.

You are right: That is why it is best not to use most otc cold and cough remedies, especially those that have every ingredient that can be put onto it. ...Read more

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Can i give my 3 1/2 year old cold medicine with a cough suppressant in it. ?

No: Neither cold or cough medications are recommended for children of this age due to potential serious side effects up to and including rare death. ...Read more

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What is an effective over the counter cough suppressant for the common cold?

What is an effective over the counter cough suppressant for the common cold?

Dextromethorphan: Dextromethorphan. Often combined with other products to help with other symptoms. ...Read more

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What is the most effective cough suppressant? Would numbing type like benzocaine help as well?

What is the most effective cough suppressant? Would numbing type like benzocaine help as well?

OTC or Rx?: Over the counter, dextromethorphan is probably the best cough suppressant available. Just be sure the one you buy doesn't contain other ingredients, particularly expectorants which make you cough more. Prescription medication such as Codeine also quite effective. Numbing medications will not help at all and taking those for cough could be dangerous, putting you at risk for aspiration. ...Read more

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My baby is 9 mo's old, and is with the common cold for more than 4 weeks. Is it ok to give him some cough suppressant?

My baby is 9 mo's old, and is with the common cold for more than 4 weeks.  Is it ok to give him some cough suppressant?

Evaluation needed: Diagnosing and treating cough in infants is especially challenging. The typical "cold" should only last about 7-10 days. If a cough is persisting beyond that time, it is reasonable to have an evaluation, as other considerations such as asthma could be an issue. Cough suppressants are not recommended for infants. The cause of the cough should be addressed first. ...Read more

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A general question- is it ok to take cough suppressant medicine when you have mucus comng out when coughing.i.e you will be leaving mucus inside chest?

A general question- is it ok to take cough suppressant medicine when you have mucus comng out when coughing.i.e you will be leaving mucus inside chest?

It depends: You do want to expectorate mucous especially if it is copious and there is any difficulty clearing it but sometimes the cough is so frequent and debilitating that the balance tips in favor of suppressing it. Mucous perceived to be from the can actually be in the throat which is often the case. ...Read more

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Will taking a decongestant cough suppressant interfere with taking metformin?

Will taking a decongestant cough suppressant interfere with taking metformin?

In general, no.: Short term use of a decongestant should not have any significant effect on metformin, which is meant to be taken as a long-term medication to assist with carbohydrate metabolism. ...Read more

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Left over cough from bronchitis that's been gone for 2 or 3 weeks, still have the cough. Will a regular cough suppressant work for now?

Left over cough from bronchitis that's been gone for 2 or 3 weeks, still have the cough. Will a regular cough suppressant work for now?

Yes: It's not unusual for a cough to last for 4-6 weeks after a bout of bronchitis. Over the counter cough suppressants are good to take to control your symptoms. Drink plenty of liquids. Honey can help soothe your throat if it becomes inflamed from the coughing. ...Read more

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Please explain why does dextromethorphan (dxm) taken as a cough suppressant cause my cough to get worse ?

Please explain why does dextromethorphan (dxm) taken as a cough suppressant cause my cough to get worse ?

Cough: Dextromehtorphan and medicines that help,loosen the mucous ,(mucolytic agents,)these act as expectorants,that is the reason for a short time people cough more,unlike suppressant s. ...Read more

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Can i give our 3 1/2 year old little remedies cold medicine with cough suppressant in it. Tried honey and natural stuff. Nothing is helping?

Can i give our 3 1/2 year old little remedies cold medicine with cough suppressant in it. Tried honey and natural stuff. Nothing is helping?

NEED SOME PATIENCE:: If honey and natural stuffs not helping, then check with his pediatrician. Some cough is good because it is a natural defense mechanism to clear the upper airway, sinuses and lower respiratory tract. If cough is prolonged, interferes eating, sleeping, then further evaluation needed to rule out asthma, allergy, sinus issue. Otc cough meds has a lot of side effects, not good for kids. ...Read more

Dr. Austina Cho
88 doctors shared insights

Cough Suppressant (Definition)

Cough suppressants are a kind of antihistamine type drug and common cold or symptom drug (common ...Read more


Antitussive (Definition)

This is a medicine that is supposed ...Read more