Mucolytic agents are medications for dissolving the phlegm. Their task is to relieve the patient with excessive amount of mucus in the airways and help him to cough the mucus up.
The drugs are usually used temporarily. There are prescribed to patients with deteriorated chronic bronchitis, or COPD. Mucolytics are also useful in infectious diseases of the lower respiratory tract including acute bronchitis or pneumonia. Chronic mucolytic therapy is rare. It may be used in patients with cystic fibrosis and serious forms of chronic bronchiectasis.
Active ingredients of the most frequently prescribed drugs include acetylcysteine, erdosteine, bromhexine and ambroxol. There are more possible ways of administration, for example oral tablets, drops, syrups and intravenous solutions.
The drugs do not have any significant side effects. However, they should be administered rather in the morning or in the afternoon when the productive cough is beneficial. When administered in the evening, they may cause night periods of acute cough, which may be unpleasant and prevent the patient from sleep.