Acetylcysteine: Not Quite a Cold Medicine

Acetylcysteine is a drug that is primarily used for people with respiratory problems. It is used as a supplement as well and it helps break up the stickiness of mucus. It can be administered as an inhalant or taken orally. Acetylcysteine is used by people afflicted with emphysema, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases. The effect of using this drug is to clear the lungs and help in breathing. Acetylcysteine is most commonly taken as an inhalant, but there are other ways to take this medication. People can take it by mouth and can be a soluble solution mixed with another liquid such as cola. Drinking the medication can cause nausea and if vomiting occurs it is important to report the occurrence to a doctor.

Acetylcysteine can have some fairly nasty side effects associated with its use. Mouth sores, runny nose are the most common of the side effects. The worse effects that can occur are severe stomach or abdominal pain, stools that are black and vomit that looks like coffee grounds. The most severe side effects involve a tightness or pain in the chest or trouble breathing and are indicative of a serious complication. If someone does experience these symptoms while taking this medicine they should report to a hospital immediately. Acetylcysteine can also cause allergic reactions in some people that include skin rash, itching or swelling especially around the face tongue or throat, severe dizziness or trouble breathing. These allergic reactions are quite rare but should be noted if someone is about to use this product. Acetylcysteine is prescribed by a doctor and one should never exceed the dosage instructed to take.

Acetylcysteine is a very good prescription for people with lung and respiratory problems. It can cause an increase in liquid and may increase coughing for those taking it. Asthmatics under treatment with acetylcysteine should especially be careful. Someone taking this medication might notice a slight odor. Under certain conditions Acetylcysteine may have a slight color change. It is important to store this substance at room temperature away from any heat source. Instructions also state to keep this drug in a refrigerator and use within 96 hours after opening the vial.

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