Jeanne Gué, MSN, RN
January 25, 2010
Antitussives, Mucolytics, Expecortants
What prescribed medications, OTC medications, or herbal products have been used now or in
the past for the treatment of the same or similar respiratory problems?
Do any medications such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, Advil)
precipitate asthma attacks?
How effective have the medications been in the treatment of prior or current symptoms.
Take baseline VS for early signs of respiratory distress:
increased BP, Pulse and respiratory
rate, increased temp.
During the preadministration assessment the nurse documents the type of cough (productive
or nonproductive) and describes the color and amount of any sputum present.
Antitussive Agents (cough suppressants)
Most -antitussives suppress the cough center in the medulla (codeine) and are called
centrally acting drugs. The expected therapeutic outcome is reduced frequency of
nonproductive cough to promote rest.
Others are peripherally acting drugs, which act by anesthetizing stretch receptors in the
respiratory passages, there by decreasing coughing.
Used when pt. has dry, hacking, non-productive cough to decrease its frequency and
suppress the severe spasms that prevent adequate rest at night.
If the cough produces
sputum, it should be treated by a primary care provider, who, based on a physical exam may
or may not prescribe an antitussive.
Herbal Alert p. 285
CNS:, light-headedness, dizziness, drowsiness, sedation,
nausea, vomiting, constipation