Difference Between Antitussive Mucolytic & Expectorant

Updated February 21, 2017

Cold and flu season is here, but with so many choices in medicines, how do you begin to choose the right one? Figure out exactly what all those complicated drug names mean, and you have won at least half of the battle.


The antitussive ingredients in medicines stop you from coughing.


Similar to an expectorant, Mucolytic drugs work to thin, loosen and eventually clear your airways of mucus.


An expectorant is a medicine that works to thin mucus in the lungs, trachea and bronchi to make it easier to expel it.

Which One?

Which one you use will depend on your symptoms. There are several options available in varying combinations to treat different situations.

Prescription Needed?

All three types of medicines are available over the counter, making it easy to treat your symptoms at home.

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About the Author

Stephanie Steensma began writing in 1998 as a radio news reporter. Her work has appeared in print publications such as "Engineering Today" and "Dome Magazine" as well as online. Steensma has a Bachelor of Arts in communication and journalism from Western Michigan University.