17.02.1 Introduction to Expectorants and Mucolytics

Expectorants remove sputum while mucolytics thin mucus.  Expectorants and mucolytics are used in the treatment of bronchitis associated with smoking/COPD.  Expectorants and mucolytics are also used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. 

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects airways and ducts in lungs, pancreas and sweat glands.  In cystic fibrosis, thick and viscous secretions are produced in ducted organs (lungs, pancreas and sweat glands).  With these increased secretions, there is an increased risk of respiratory infection.  The frequent and persistent lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis leads to irreversible lung damage (bronchiectasis).