1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.



Updated June 13, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


Expectorants are a class of cough medication that help thin mucous. Once mucous is thinned, it is easier to expel from the lungs by coughing.

The only over-the-counter expectorant is called guaifenesin. It is sold under multiple brand names, including:

Expectorants may be useful if you have mucous in your chest that you are having difficulty coughing up. However, it should not be used for a cough caused by COPD, asthma, smoking, emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Cold & Flu
  4. Glossary
  5. Cold/Flu Terms A - E
  6. Expectorants - Health Glossary Definition

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.