Robitussin vs. Mucinex for Chest Congestion

Robitussin for Chest Congestion: A Brief History

The first time I remember hearing about Robitussin was when my father took me to the pharmacy at our local grocery store in 1970’s. There were two little plastic bottles with a red label, which looked like they contained something like aspirin. They had a small sticker on them saying “Robitussin” and the brand name was “Pfizer”. My dad asked the pharmacist what it was and he told him that it was a cough suppressant. That didn’t sound very interesting to me, but I knew there must be some kind of side effect if it could cause coughing fits.

I remember thinking then that I would never want to take such a drug because I don’t think I have ever been sick enough to need one before! But now, 30 years later, I realize how wrong my father was about this product.

There are many different brands of Robitussin. Some contain codeine, others do not. All of them work similarly. They all prevent your body from making too much mucus (coughing up) and they all have other effects on your system. The most common side effect is constipation, although there may be other minor ones as well.

I’ll get to the specifics in a moment.

The drug is an expectorant, and it does help get the gunk out of your lungs. It is different from most other OTC drugs on the market because it goes by several different names and has several different packages. All are known as Robitussin products, but the makers of this drug package them in different ways for marketing purposes. They also make other drugs that contain different chemicals that have similar properties.

Roughly, there are three different forms of Robitussin on the market. The most common ones are the liquids that come in a bottle. The cap of the bottle has a pointy plastic thing that you can squeeze the liquid out of. It is usually red or sometimes white.

There is also a form where Robitussin comes in little capsules that look like big round yellow beads.

Sources & references used in this article:

Guaifenesin for Fibromyalgia by S Terry –

Over-The-Counter Treatments for Cough and Cold by JL Sack – Education Week, 1998

The selegiline transdermal system (EMSAM): a therapeutic option for the treatment of major depressive disorder by YC Terrie

Role of guaifenesin in the management of chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections by A Cold, SM Strength, AH Cold, S Plus, S Wyeth…

When Patients Ask for Antibiotics, Arm Them With Handouts by A PART

Recommendations for the proper use of nonprescription cough suppressants and expectorants in solid-organ transplant recipients by J Abbey, IR Center –