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Expectorants: Potassium iodide, Ammonium chloride

When someone has a cough that produces mucus, they can use an expectorant medication to relieve it. These types of coughs are called "productive".


When someone has a cough that produces mucus, they can use an expectorant medication to relieve it. These types of coughs are called "productive" or "wet" by physicians and pharmacists. By thinning mucus in the nasal passageways, expectorants reduce the thickness of secretions. Expectorants loosen up mucus so that people can cough up phlegm and clear their throats more easily.


Infections of the respiratory system such as the common cold, pneumonia, or bronchitis are commonly treated with expectorants. When you have these infections, you may build up mucus in your throat or lungs. You might have difficulty coughing up this mucus, and you may have chest discomfort because of the mucus accumulation. By thinning the respiratory secretions in your airways, expectorants help you cough up excess mucus more easily. By lubricating your airways, these medications help you cough up mucus more efficiently. The discomfort of chest congestion is reduced by coughing up phlegm. As well as coughing up bacteria and viruses, you may reduce your risk of infection by coughing up debris.

Side effects

There are rarely any serious side effects associated with expectorants. There are several common side effects associated with this medication, including drowsiness, dizziness, and rash. Combination expectorants are more likely to cause side effects. As well as drowsiness, nervousness, and vomiting, restlessness, dextromethorphan causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea.

Potassium iodide

Mucus in the airways is loosened and broken up with potassium iodide. When you have long-term lung conditions (e.g., asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema), this helps you cough up the mucus and breath more easily. Expectorants are used to help you cough up mucus. As preparation for thyroid surgery, as a treatment for hyperthyroidism, and as a treatment for thyroid radiation exposure, potassium iodide is also used in conjunction with antithyroid medicines. To reduce thyroid hormone production, the thyroid gland is reduced in size. Radioactive iodine can damage thyroid tissue, but potassium iodide protects it and reduces the risk of thyroid cancer by stopping it from absorbing radioactive iodine. Public health and safety officials are likely to recommend other emergency measures as well (e.g., finding a safe shelter, evacuating the area, watching the food supply).

Taking potassium iodide relieves chest congestion by thinning mucus and loosening congestion. Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are problems related to thick mucus, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. A nuclear radiation emergency might require the use of potassium iodide to stop radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland. You take it just once or twice during such an emergency.

Ammonium chloride

The concentration of hydrogen ions increases with ammonium chloride. A natural expectorant, ammonium chloride acts as an irritant to the mucosa in the lungs. As a result, the respiratory tract is filled with fluid, which makes it easier for the cough to get off. It is during this process that ammonium ions are converted to urea, and chloride ions replace bicarbonate. A complete absorption occurs within three to six hours. Ammonium chloride is absorbed almost completely when given by mouth to healthy adults. According to estimates, only one to three percent of the dose can be recovered from the feces.

These are the active ingredient in cough syrups. Ammonium ions (NH4+) play a crucial role in maintaining acid-base balance in the body. Ammonium (NH4+) is used so that combined with fixed anions, the kidney can maintain acid-base balance, especially when metabolic acidosis is present. AMS causes therapeutic effects because the kidney can excrete excess fixed ions from the body and because the liver converts ammonia to urea, which causes hydrogen (H+) and chloride (Cl–) ions to be released into the extracellular fluid. After dilution in isotonic sodium chloride injection, ammonium chloride injection can be used to treat patients with:
  • Metabolic alkalosis
  • Hypochloraemia
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of pharmaguideline.com, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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