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What medications are used to thin mucus in COPD patients?

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Medications used to thin mucus in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients include expectorants such as guiafenesin and mucolytics such as N-acetylcysteine, which aid in clearing lungs and air passages for easier breathing, according to the American Thoracic Society. Drinking water, juice and other nondehydrating liquids thins mucus naturally.

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COPD patients producing mucus or sputum need to drink 64 ounces or more of liquid each day, notes the American Thoracic Society. Guiafenesin is a common expectorant and N-acetylcysteine is a common mucolytic, which breaks up mucus molecules. Doctors prescribe N-acetylcysteine in an inhaled form with a nebulizer to administer it. Patients in European counties use it more frequently than patients in the United States, as of 2015. Experts disagree about the effectiveness of the medications.

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