Cough

Updated 25 July 2012

Carbocisteine

Carbocisteine is a mucolytic, a substance that assists in breaking up mucus in the airways.

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Carbocisteine is the active ingredient of Betaphlem, Bronchette, Co-Flem, Flemex, Flemgo, Flemlite, Lessmusec, Mucoflem, Mucolinct and Mucospect.

General Information

Carbocisteine is a mucolytic, a substance that assists in breaking up mucus in the airways. It is used as adjunctive therapy in respiratory tract disorders associated with thick mucus in the absence of an infection.

It is often prescribed in the treatment of bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, reducing mucus viscosity, allowing the sufferer to bring up mucus more easily. This medication is furthermore applied as a frontline treatment in the treatment of paracetamol poisoning.

Carbocisteine should be used with great care in patients with stomach ulcers.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 2

Available as: carbocisteine is available as capsules, syrup

What does it do? carbocisteine thins mucus in the airways

Overdose risk: low

Dependence risk: low

Is carbocisteine available as a generic? yes

Is carbocisteine available on prescription only? no

User information

Dietary advice: This medication should best be taken with meals to prevent gastrointestinal effects.

Stopping this medicine: This medication can be safely stopped when no longer needed.

Prolonged use: Carbocisteine is generally not used for prolonged periods of time.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have or had a stomach ulcer

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication have not been established for children under the age of 2.

Elderly: No special precautions need to be taken.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication as it may intensify gastrointestinal side effects.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

headache

x

x

diarrhoea constipation

x

x

nausea/vomiting

x

x

skin rash/ itching

x

x

dizziness

x

x

palpitations

x

x

heartburn

x

x

black tarry stools

x

x

Interactions

Disease interactions

Use with caution if you have or had a stomach ulcer.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of an intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include nausea, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness and palpitations.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 1.5-2.25 g per day divided in 3 doses

Children:

2-5 years: 62.5-125 mg 4 times a day

6-12: 250 mg 3 times a day

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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Dr Dave Reece studied at UCT and qualified as a GP in 1974. He has been in practice as a GP since 1977. Dr Reece currently has a general family practice in Goodwood and is a cough expert for Health24.

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