Guaifenesin is a type of drug called an expectorant, meaning it loosens phlegm and increases the lubrication inside the lungs, allowing for a more productive cough and therefore, less chest congestion. The over-the-counter version of guaifenesin is Mucinex. Chest congestion can have different causes—allergies, sinus infection, the common cold—but guaifenesin can help in any case. While for the most part the side effects of this medication are mild, it is still good to know about and consider them so you can make a well-informed decision about taking the guaifenesin; it is also good to know when or if you should seek medical attention. This article will lay it all out for you. Learn about the side effects and more of guaifenesin.
This type of medication does not typically produce any serious side effects, but that’s not to say they can’t happen. Everybody reacts differently; most just don’t react in a negative way at all.
If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction—difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, or hives—it is extremely important that you seek medical attention and stop taking guaifenesin immediately.
Other Serious Side Effects
While the following side effects are rare, they are quite serious. If they occur, it is best to seek medical attention immediately and stop taking the medication so no further complications arise: difficulty urinating, fast or irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, seizures, severe dizziness, severe lightheadedness, severe headache, or tremors.
Other Less Serious Side Effects
Less serious side effects that can come about include dizziness, headache, excitability, nervousness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, weakness, constipation, mild and temporary changes in behavior, drowsiness, a rash, nausea, vomiting, and/or stomach upset. If any of these are experienced, it is okay to continue taking the medication, but it is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
It is also possible that side effects may occur when guaifenesin is taken with other medications. Always talk to your doctor about the other medications that you’re taking or even any herbal supplements that you may take while on guaifenesin.
Certain Medical Conditions
Pregnant women should not take this medication unless told to do so by a doctor; currently, it is not known how this medication will affect the fetus. Also, if you smoke or have asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema talk with a doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication; otherwise, you could be at a greater risk for having certain side effects.
Other Important Information
Many times side effects can occur because the medication, in this case guaifenesin, is not taken properly. Always take the medication as directed by your doctor; don’t crush or chew the tablet. With each dose, drink a full glass of water. As a side note, drinking fluids while taking this medication will certainly do you some good because the fluids will help with chest congestion. If you discover that guaifenesin upsets your stomach, take the medication with food. If you take the liquid version, don’t guesstimate how much you’re taking by using a tablespoon; it is important that you get a dose-measuring spoon or cup so you’re getting the correct dose. If you happen to miss a dose, don’t take it if you’re getting close to the next dosage time; don’t EVER double the dose. An overdose is not likely to occur, but if you suspect one, seek medical attention. Lastly, stop the use of this medication if your cough lasts for more than 7 days, if your cough returns, or if your cough is accompanied by a fever, rash, or persistent headache.