Acetylcysteine

By

Generic Name: Acetylcysteine Brand Name(s): Acetylcysteine.

Uses

What is acetylcysteine used for?

Acetylcysteine is commonly used to treat acetaminophen overdose. It is used to thin mucus so it can be taken from the body by coughing.

It may be given to you for other reasons.

How should I take acetylcysteine?

Use this medicine as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

Liquid for breathing in:

  • For breathing in only as a liquid (solution) by a special machine (nebulizer) into the lungs.
  • If acetylcysteine solution is used with a face mask, your face may feel sticky after using. Wash your face with water.
  • Do not use if the solution is leaking or has particles.

Oral liquid:

  • Mix with diet soda and drink.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • If you throw up within 1 hour of taking this medicine, take 1 more dose.

How do I store acetylcysteine?

Unopened vials

Acetylcysteine is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store acetylcysteine in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of acetylcysteine that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush acetylcysteine down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Opened vials

Acetylcysteine is best stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drug damage, do not freeze. There may be different brands of acetylcysteine that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush acetylcysteine down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using acetylcysteine?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • 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.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of acetylcysteineor other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell all of your health care providers that you take acetylcysteine solution. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.

The drug may change color when the bottle is opened.

There may be a bad odor to this medicine. This most often goes away fast.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using acetylcysteine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking acetylcysteine. Acetylcysteine is pregnancy risk category B, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

 

Side effects

What side effects can occur from acetylcysteine?

For all uses of acetylcysteine solution:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach or throwing u

Oral liquid:

  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools
  • Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds

Liquid for breathing in:

  • Runny nose
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Mouth irritation or mouth sores
  • Clammy skin
  • Fever

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this acetylcysteine.

 

What is the dose of acetylcysteine for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Acetaminophen Overdose

Injectable: The total dose is 300 mg/kg, given as 3 separate doses, administered over a total of 21 hrs.

Usual Adult Dose for Diagnostic Bronchograms

Nebulized into a face mask, mouth piece, or tracheostomy:

  • Recommended dosage: 3 to 5 mL of 20% solution, or 6 to 10 mL of 10% solution, 3 to 4 times a day
  • Dosage range: 1 to 10 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 20 mL of 10% solution, every 2 to 6 hours

Nebulization tent, Croupette:

  • Recommended dose: The volume of 10% or 20% solution that will maintain a very heavy mist in the tent or Croupette for the desired period.
  • This requires very large solution volumes, as much as 300 mL in a single treatment period.
  • Intermittent or continuous prolonged administration periods, including overnight, may be desirable.
  • Nebulization into a tent or Croupette must be individualized.
  • Take into account the available equipment.

Direct Instillation:

  • Dose range: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, as often as every hour.
  • Routine tracheostomy care: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, instilled into the tracheostomy
  • Percutaneous intratracheal catheter: 1 to 2 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of 10% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, via a syringe attached to the catheter
  • Direct pulmonary installation: 2 to 5 mL of 20% solution
  • Introduce directly into a particular segment of the bronchopulmonary tree by inserting (under local anesthesia and direct vision) a small plastic catheter into the trachea; instill using a syringe connected to the catheter.

Diagnostic Bronchograms:

  • Recommended dosing: 1 to 2 mL of the 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution, by nebulization or by instillation intratracheally, two or three times prior to the procedure.

Usual Adult Dose for Mucolytic

Nebulized into a face mask, mouth piece, or tracheostomy:

  • Recommended dosage: 3 to 5 mL of 20% solution, or 6 to 10 mL of 10% solution, 3 to 4 times a day
  • Dosage range: 1 to 10 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 20 mL of 10% solution, every 2 to 6 hours

Nebulization tent, Croupette:

  • Recommended dose: The volume of 10% or 20% solution that will maintain a very heavy mist in the tent or Croupette for the desired period.
  • This requires very large solution volumes, as much as 300 mL in a single treatment period.
  • Intermittent or continuous prolonged administration periods, including overnight, may be desirable.
  • Nebulization into a tent or Croupette must be individualized.
  • Take into account the available equipment.

Direct Instillation:

  • Dose range: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, as often as every hour.
  • Routine tracheostomy care: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, instilled into the tracheostomy
  • Percutaneous intratracheal catheter: 1 to 2 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of 10% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, via a syringe attached to the catheter
  • Direct pulmonary installation: 2 to 5 mL of 20% solution
  • Introduce directly into a particular segment of the bronchopulmonary tree by inserting (under local anesthesia and direct vision) a small plastic catheter into the trachea; instill using a syringe connected to the catheter.

Diagnostic Bronchograms:

  • Recommended dosing: 1 to 2 mL of the 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution, by nebulization or by instillation intratracheally, two or three times prior to the procedure.

What is the dose of acetylcysteine for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acetaminophen Overdose

Injectable: The total dose is 300 mg/kg, given as 3 separate doses, administered over a total of 21 hrs.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Diagnostic Bronchograms

Nebulized into a face mask, mouth piece, or tracheostomy:

  • Recommended dosage: 3 to 5 mL of 20% solution, or 6 to 10 mL of 10% solution, 3 to 4 times a day
  • Dosage range: 1 to 10 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 20 mL of 10% solution, every 2 to 6 hours

Nebulization tent, Croupette:

  • Recommended dose: The volume of 10% or 20% solution that will maintain a very heavy mist in the tent or Croupette for the desired period.
  • This requires very large solution volumes, as much as 300 mL in a single treatment period.
  • Intermittent or continuous prolonged administration periods, including overnight, may be desirable.
  • Nebulization into a tent or Croupette must be individualized.
  • Take into account the available equipment.

Direct Instillation:

  • Dose range: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, as often as every hour.
  • Routine tracheostomy care: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, instilled into the tracheostomy
  • Percutaneous intratracheal catheter: 1 to 2 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of 10% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, via a syringe attached to the catheter
  • Direct pulmonary installation: 2 to 5 mL of 20% solution
  • Introduce directly into a particular segment of the bronchopulmonary tree by inserting (under local anesthesia and direct vision) a small plastic catheter into the trachea; instill using a syringe connected to the catheter.

Diagnostic Bronchograms:

  • Recommended dosing: 1 to 2 mL of the 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution, by nebulization or by instillation intratracheally, two or three times prior to the procedure.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Mucolytic

Nebulized into a face mask, mouth piece, or tracheostomy:

  • Recommended dosage: 3 to 5 mL of 20% solution, or 6 to 10 mL of 10% solution, 3 to 4 times a day
  • Dosage range: 1 to 10 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 20 mL of 10% solution, every 2 to 6 hours

Nebulization tent, Croupette:

  • Recommended dose: The volume of 10% or 20% solution that will maintain a very heavy mist in the tent or Croupette for the desired period.
  • This requires very large solution volumes, as much as 300 mL in a single treatment period.
  • Intermittent or continuous prolonged administration periods, including overnight, may be desirable.
  • Nebulization into a tent or Croupette must be individualized.
  • Take into account the available equipment.

Direct Instillation:

  • Dose range: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, as often as every hour.
  • Routine tracheostomy care: 1 to 2 mL of 10% to 20% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, instilled into the tracheostomy
  • Percutaneous intratracheal catheter: 1 to 2 mL of 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of 10% solution, every 1 to 4 hours, via a syringe attached to the catheter
  • Direct pulmonary installation: 2 to 5 mL of 20% solution
  • Introduce directly into a particular segment of the bronchopulmonary tree by inserting (under local anesthesia and direct vision) a small plastic catheter into the trachea; instill using a syringe connected to the catheter.

Diagnostic Bronchograms:

  • Recommended dosing: 1 to 2 mL of the 20% solution, or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution, by nebulization or by instillation intratracheally, two or three times prior to the procedure.

How is acetylcysteine available?

Acetylcysteine is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Injected solution
  • Liquid for breathing

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of acetylcysteine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: September 12, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.