What is Mucinex®

The Mucinex Family

Let’s be honest: when you’re struggling with a nasty cough, icky mucus and a nose that’s running like a faucet, you don’t necessarily care why a product works, as long as it does. But understanding your symptoms and the best active ingredients to relieve them can help you pick the best over-the-counter medication at the drugstore.

That’s why we’re taking you back to school for Mucinex® 101 — so you can learn how our products work and how they help you get relief.

Cough & Chest Congestion

The cold and flu have something in common: coughing and congestion. That’s why Mucinex® has developed a variety of products to address these symptoms and help you navigate cold and flu season. Products in this range typically contain one or both of these two ingredients:

  • Guaifenesin: An expectorant that loosens and thins excess mucus. If you’re dealing with chest congestion, this will help you clear it up.
  • Dextromethorphan HBr: An “antitussive” (a.k.a cough medication) that works on your brain to suppress your coughing reflex.

Products in this category, like Mucinex® and Mucinex® DM, work best for a stubborn, productive cough — whether you’re grappling with the cough on its own or as a lingering effect of the cold or flu.


When you’ve got a nasty cold or flu, you’re dealing with multiple symptoms at once (hello, runny nose and fever) so you’ll need a type of Mucinex® that has more active ingredients.

Products in this range typically contain some combination of these ingredients:

Since antihistamines can make you drowsy, and that’s hardly ideal during the day, many of the Mucinex® multi-symptom products come in combination packs that contain a non-drowsy daytime relief option and a nighttime option.


Since it's common knowledge that excess mucus isn’t just a problem when you have chest congestion or a cold — that run-of-the-mill stuffy nose is pretty annoying, too. So Mucinex® developed sinus products to help clear nasal congestion, and relieve the yucky headache that can sometimes come along with it. Products for sinus symptoms typically contain one or more of these ingredients:

  • Phenylephrine HCl: The nasal decongestant found in liquid gels, caplets and syrups to relieve that stuffed up nose.
  • Guaifenesin: To help thin and break up mucus, so it’s easier to get rid of.
  • Acetaminophen: To ease the discomfort of headache and sinus pressure.
  • Dextromethorphan HBr: To relieve coughing that might occur with your sinus congestion.
  • Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride: The nasal decongestant found in Sinus-Max® FullForce® nasal spray.

All of Mucinex® sinus products contain a nasal decongestant to relieve congested sinuses, but some products, such as Mucinex® Sinus-Max® Pressure & Pain, contain additional ingredients to manage other symptoms, like pain.

Finding the Relief You Need

Now that you know exactly what Mucinex is and how the products work, these are your next steps to symptom relief:

  • Read the label thoroughly. Look at the ingredient list to make sure you've chosen Mucinex® product to match your symptoms, and find the best dosage to relieve those symptoms effectively. Never take more than the dosage indicated on the label.
  • Supplement your relief. Use lifestyle changes, such as staying hydrated and taking it easy for a few days, to help your body fight off a cough, a cold or the flu.
  • Make a doctor’s appointment. If over-the-counter medication isn’t helping your symptoms, or they’re not going away after two weeks, your doctor can find out if something more serious is going on.


When you’re struggling with a nasty cough, icky mucus and a nose that’s running like a faucet, you don’t always care why a product works, as long as it does.


  • University of Maryland: Common Cold
  • University of Maryland: Influenza