Carbocisteine (Mucodyne)

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Carbocisteine helps to make it easier to cough up sputum.

It works best when it is taken regularly.

There are two strengths of liquid medicine (syrup) - an adult's strength and a child's strength.

Side-effects with carbocisteine occur only rarely.

Type of medicineA mucolytic
Used forTo help clear sputum in respiratory disease associated with a productive cough
Also calledMucodyne®
Available asCapsules, oral liquid medicine for adults, and oral liquid medicine for children (aged 2-12 years)

Mucolytic medicines, such as carbocisteine, can be helpful for people with a long-term respiratory disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Carbocisteine works by making mucus (phlegm) less thick and sticky, and therefore easier to cough up. It may also have a knock-on effect of making it harder for bacteria to cause chest infections.

It needs to be taken regularly, and is most likely to help if you have moderate or severe COPD and have frequent or bad flare-ups.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking carbocisteine it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have ever had a stomach ulcer.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about carbocisteine and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take carbocisteine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you. As a guide:
    • The usual dose for an adult is: two 375 mg capsules three times a day, reduced, when symptoms improve, to one 375 mg capsule four times daily.
    • The usual dose for a child aged 5-12 years is: 250 mg three times daily.
    • The usual dose for a child aged 2-5 years is: 62.5 mg-125 mg four times daily. Children will be supplied with a paediatric (or children's) strength medicine.
  • Carbocisteine works best when it is taken regularly. Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take your doses regularly. It is not important whether you take carbocisteine before or after food.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress, as your doctor will want to check to make sure that carbocisteine is working well for you.
  • People with COPD who exercise regularly tend to have improved breathing. Taking a daily walk is a good start if you are not used to exercise. Try to increase the level of your activity over time if you are able.
  • If you are overweight it can make breathlessness worse. Ask a dietician to give you advice on healthy eating and how to lose weight.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. Side-effects of carbocisteine occur only rarely. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine.

Rare carbocisteine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 1,000 people
What can I do if I experience this?
Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract (blood in vomit or black stools)Stop taking carbocisteine and let your doctor know straightaway
Skin rash, swelling, or blisteringStop taking carbocisteine and let your doctor know straightaway

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
13596 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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