There are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications used to treat a cough. Expectorants are used if your cough is nonproductive, meaning you aren’t coughing up any mucus. They can also be used for productive coughs to reduce the thickness of the mucus and increase secretions and move the phlegm out of your lungs. Guaifenesin is an expectorant. Brand name products for guaifenesin include Mucinex or Robitussin Mucus + Chest Congestion. This drug is available in a tablet, caplet, or liquid. Do not take more than 2.4 grams/day of guaifenesin. Cough suppressants are used for dry, unproductive coughs or to suppress productive coughs at night to help with sleep. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. Brand name products for dextromethorphan include Delsym or DayQuil Cough. Any product with a “DM” at the end of the name contains dextromethorphan. This drug is available in a capsule, liquid, or lozenge. Do not take more than 120 mg/day of dextromethorphan. Be sure to ask your pharmacist which product they recommend for you based on your symptoms. We are happy to help!
Kelli Noel, PharmD Candidate
Amy Tichenor, PharmD