N-acetyl cysteine may be beneficial in treating conditions that cause mucus in the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. N-acetyl cysteine is a supplement for a common amino acid, cysteine, that your body takes from animal and vegetable proteins from foods and converts into an antioxidant known as glutathione. Although there are many proposed uses for N-acetyl cysteine from preventing cancer to treating heart disease, you can use this supplement specifically for mucus relating to a respiratory condition, such as bronchitis.
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Sometimes people have difficulty getting rid of mucus that is abnormally sticky and thick due to lung problems, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis, chronic emphysema, or after certain lung tests or surgery, according to Drugs.com. This makes breathing difficult. N-acetyl cysteine is a mucolytic, which means it assists people with mucus by thinning mucus secretions. This makes the mucus more liquid so it gets through your lungs easier so you can cough it up.
You can take N-acetyl cysteine orally or it may be given to you through an IV at a hospital. A doctor can show you how to use a device called a nebulizer that allows you to inhale an N-acetyl cysteine solution into your lungs. Do not use the device in any way other than how your doctor tells you to. In a situation in which a person has an inability to cough up their mucus effectively, a doctor may use suction to remove the mucus. You may be given a face mask to use with a nebulizer if your doctor advises it. You may need to wash your face afterward as a stick substance may show up on your face when using a face mask.
Children and Seniors
No specific data for use of n-acetyl cysteine in children exists, but Drugs.com states that children may use N-acetyl cysteine with the same expectations in terms of potential side effects as adults. The same is true for elderly people. You should still ask your physician if there is any new information in regards to the effects of n-acetyl cysteine in children or seniors before agreeing to the medication.
Not everyone should take N-acetyl cysteine. Asthmatics may experience more severe symptoms from taking N-acetyl cysteine. Also, discuss your allergies with your doctor to ensure that nothing in the N-acetyl cysteine solution will cause you to have an allergic reaction. You should also discuss any other medication you are on in case they could react to N-acetyl cysteine.