Cough Expectorant without Suppressant?

I am having a heavy chested cough and I feel as though I need to hack it up; its not dry at all, just not productive.

I am asking the Dopers if there is any OTC medication that will act as an expectorant that does not have a cough suppressant? I have no need to suppress the cough urge; I want to cough it up.

On a side note I am also open to suggestions on guaifenesin alternatives as I am somewhat skeptical on the efficacy.

I have read in a few places that SSKI can be tremendously helpful at coughing up deep-seating lung congestion, but I haven’t seen any drug chains that sell it. Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading!

You can buy various mucolytics and expectorants without a prescription.
Ask the pharmacist.

In my vast (seriously) experience, pretty much any potion for cough, OTC or not, is of trivial value. The cough is a pretty powerful reflex, and so you really can’t suppress it much even if you try. As you mention, trying to suppress it is intuitively non-helpful anyway.

But I’m not sure mucolytics and expectorants do much either.

Stay hydrated. Try humidified air; warm if possible; cool if not. I’m not sure why I prefer warm. It just seems like it should work better.

I think you can get SSKI without an Rx, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m actually not sure… Potassium is sort of lethal in high concentration, so I don’t personally like the idea of having a supply of it around, even if you know to use only a few drops diluted out.

Standard Mucinex?

… oh.

That’s the only OTC one that I know of in the US, though there may be others.

Potassium iodide stimulates saliva production, from what I can tell - are you sure that’s the effect you want for congestion? (Plus you can get an enlarged thyroid or other undesirable side effects.) You’re probably most likely to find that in survival stores/websites due to its usual use, to prevent radiation poisoning.

Plain old Mucinex seems to be what you’re looking for.

Well, Mucinex comes in expectorant-only versions that are pure guaifenesin. Are you saying it doesn’t work for you?

I think you can get Mucinex with just the expectorant.

I’ve heard good things about Mucinex.

Vick’s Vapor Rub, and hot shower, and some forced deep breaths every morning after you wake up.

I never understood why so many cough suppresants also have an expectorant. Is it to make coughs less frequent but more productive when they do occur?

Vicks and/or Mucinex, and spend some quality time in your steam room. :slight_smile: Alternatively, run a couple inches of blazing-hot water in your bathtub, then turn on the showerhead. Don’t get in the shower, but stand around and inhale for 10-15 minutes. It will become much easier to cough. If you don’t have very hot water (or don’t want to get all steamy), you can boil a pot of water on your sink and inhale from that. I find the shower is more effective, though.

I find plain old guaifenesin to work fine, it also helps if my ears are clogged up from a cold, which seems to happen more the older I get. It works best if I’ve been pushing lots of fluids, of course.

Have you considered Mucinex?

While we’re on the topic…

The closest to death I’ve felt in recent memory is seriously choking on a ball of phlegm. I had taken Mucinex just before going to bed, and woke up to cough–only to find that somehow I had collected a giant ball of gelled phlegm in my throat, and coughed in a way that completely closed my breathing passage, and couldn’t breathe for several seconds (it felt like a lot longer, of course). Eventually I was able to swallow it (ugh).

That happen to anyone else? I won’t take Mucinex except during the day any more, when I know I’ll cough often enough to keep my throat clear.

Another problematic point about Guaifenesin is that it can cause mild incontinence. It’s still the best expectorant I know of.

For those wondering what the point of an expectorant is - it serves to loosen the phlegm - make it more liquid and easier to move up and out. When the phlegm is really thick, or the bronchial tubes are really inflamed, it can be really painful and difficult to get the nasty stuff out of you.

If you have to cough, you want it to be productive.

To the OP IANAD, but I’ve had pneumonia, and the main symptom is a non-productive cough. So if you have a dry cough and haven’t seen a doctor, please do so. I’ve tried ignoring pneumonia for too long,and the result was very unpleasant for a very long time. Pleurisy sucks.

I cough horribly and extendedly with any upper respiratory illness and have not found expectorants to help much (and suppressants not in the slightest). Mainly, I drink a lot of warmish water and try to get as much rest as possible.

When you have a bad cough, suppressants don’t do a goddamn thing.

on a side not on guaifenesin side effects, It causes what I would describe as “looping dreams” where the same action occurs over and over again. It could be something mundane like mowing the lawn which will go on and on and on.

I hate the stuff but will take it if I’m drowning in fluids that won’t cough up.

Hah. Yeah, guaifenesin is interesting stuff. I can take it alone, and tend to at night, but I learned the hard way that I can’t take it with a decongestant - namely pseudoephedrine - when the room started spinning during a business meeting after I took Mucinex-D for the first time at work. I had to go home soon after. It was like bed-spins and I couldn’t read anything, much less concentrate. Glad I didn’t have to drive to get home.

When I had pneumonia, my aunt(a nurse of 20 years) recommended that I lay over a sofa foot rest and have someone drum their fists up and down my back. Not hard, but not gently either. I’d cough up big gobs of mucus for a while after that.

I was medicated as well, of course. But that physical therapy definitely had an effect within a minute.

While doctors get all the glory, it is the nurses that are the heavy lifters. Nurses of the straight dope, I know what you do. You are the bass players of the medical world. Keep on rockin, and thanks.

Having pneumonia is terrible. Trying to sit up in bed is like swimming through gelatin.

Mucinex DM : Everyone catches a cold once in a while. One of the most common diseases is cough and cold. Generally when you catch a cold you do not see a doctor to get a prescribed drug. Instead you look for over the counter drugs and home based remedies. But if it is a bad cold which results into chest congestion then the home based remedies might not be enough.