Guaifenesin syrup is a liquid medication most often used for the treatment of cough symptoms. The drug is an effective expectorant, allowing patients to dispense phlegm and clear out infected respiratory tracts. Certain formulations of guaifenesin syrup can also contain antitussives, which help loosen phlegm for expectoration. Less common uses for guaifenesin syrup include the treatment of both asthma and gout, maintaining anesthetic treatments in veterinary procedures, and improving the voice quality of singers. Side effects of guaifenesin use include vomiting, nausea, and the development of kidney stones.
Although doctors prescribe guaifenesin syrup to alleviate the symptoms of cough, the medication is not a cure for upper respiratory tract infections. Guaifenesin thins mucus and phlegm lining the body's air passageways; the less viscous mucus is then easier to expel from the system. This provides relief for symptoms such as heavy cough and difficulty breathing. It does not, however, eliminate any of the viral or bacterial causes of cough. Guaifenesin syrup is safe to use in conjunction with many medications that do cure respiratory tract infections, such as erythromycin.
The remedy is available in forms other than syrups. Patients can purchase guaifenesin granules to dissolve into an orally-taken suspension. Many individuals prefer to take the medication as a pill to avoid unfavorable flavors. Capsules that contain guaifenesin syrup are also available and allow patients to take precise doses of the medication.
Despite the reported benefits of guaifenesin syrup, experts argue that the medication lacks quantifiable evidence in supporting claims of cough relief. Although using guaifenesin will usually reduce the viscosity of phlegm, there isn't enough empirical data to show that thinner phlegm results in more efficient coughs. In this respect, some doctors advice against the use of guaifenesin, as there is no proven benefit to outweigh its potential side effects.
The side effects of guaifenesin syrup are uncommon and often arise only in cases of overdose. The most common symptom of a guaifenesin overdose is a migraine headache, although the medication can also bring about a general sense of uneasiness. Overconsumption of guaifenesin can lead to signs of dehydration, such as chapped lips and mouth dryness, and kidney failure unless the treatment is supplemented with increased fluid intake. In extremely rare cases, patients might be allergic to guaifenesin, developing rashes and other serious medical issues.
Experts advise that individuals consult their doctors before taking guaifenesin to reduce the risk of harmful side effects. Patients should also report any medications being taken that might develop adverse reactions with guaifenesin. Most doctors advise pregnant women to avoid taking the medication, as it could potentially harm the developing fetus.