Acetylcysteine (By breathing)

Introduction

Acetylcysteine (a-seet-il-SIS-teen)

Thins or dissolves thick lung mucus caused by emphysema, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, or other lung problems.

Brand Name(s)

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Liquid

  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • Read and follow the patient instructions that come with this medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • You will use this medicine with an inhaler device called a nebulizer. The nebulizer turns the medicine into a fine mist that you breathe in through your mouth and to your lungs. Your caregiver will show you how to use your nebulizer.
  • This medicine is sometimes given through a face mask. It also may be given inside a plastic tent that is placed around your head. The medicine is put into the air of the tent for breathing.
  • This medicine may have a bad smell at first. The odor should go away soon after you start your treatment.
  • The medicine in an opened vial might turn from clear to a light purple color. This is normal and does not change how the medicine works.
  • Clean the nebulizing equipment immediately after use.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store unopened vials of this medicine at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. Do not freeze. After opening, you may store the vial in the refrigerator for 4 days.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of the used medicine container and any leftover medicine. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some medicines can affect how acetylcysteine works. Tell your doctor if you are taking an antibiotic. Do not mix other medicines in the nebulizer with acetylcysteine, unless your doctor tells you to.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you have asthma, or it is hard for you to cough.
  • Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing up blood

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Clammy skin
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sore mouth

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 7/4/2015

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