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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Acetylcysteine (Inhalation)

Acetylcysteine (By Breathing)

Acetylcysteine (a-se-teel-SIS-teen)

Helps you breathe better by thinning or dissolving thick lung mucus caused by emphysema, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, or other lung problems.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to acetylcysteine.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use and how often to have your treatments.
  • Carefully read and follow the instructions that come with the medicine. They will tell you how to use the nebulizer (the device that you use to breathe in the medicine) and compressor and how to care for and clean the nebulizer kit.
  • The compressor turns the medicine into a fine spray that you will breath into your mouth using the nebulizer.
  • Use the mouthpiece that comes with the nebulizer.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before putting the nebulizer together.
  • Open the vial (small bottle of medicine) and pour the medicine into the nebulizer cup. Put the cap back on the cup. The medicine may have a bad smell at first. The odor should go away soon after you start your treatment.
  • Turn on the compressor so mist is coming out of the nebulizer.
  • Put the mouthpiece in your mouth, close your lips around it, and breathe in and out through your mouth. Make sure your teeth and tongue do not block the airflow.
  • Keep breathing until the nebulizer cup is empty or no more mist is coming out. You may hear a sputtering sound when the cup is empty.
  • When finished, turn off the compressor and clean the nebulizer and compressor.
  • You may need to cough up and spit out mucus that collects in your throat.
  • Instead of a mouthpiece, acetylcysteine is sometimes given through a face mask.
  • Sometimes a tent is placed around the head or upper body, and the medicine is put into the air of the tent for breathing.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about your medicine and whether you are using it correctly.

If a dose is missed:

  • Use the missed dose as soon as possible, unless it is almost time for your next dose.
  • Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next regular dose.
  • You should not use two doses at the same time.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store unopened vials of medicine at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. After the vial has been opened, keep it in the refrigerator and use it within 4 days. Do not freeze. You should not use vials of acetylcysteine that have passed the expiration date.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Do not mix other medicines in the nebulizer with acetylcysteine, unless your doctor tells you to.
Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using acetylcysteine
  • Tell your doctor before using this medicine if you have asthma or if it is hard for you to cough.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Increased wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever, skin rash or hives

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Sore mouth or throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Runny nose
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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