What are Mucolytic Agents or Mucolytics
Mucolytic Agents are drugs that are used to make the sputum thin and less viscid, so that it can be easily expectorated.
Many patients with chest disease become dehydrated and adequate hydration along with steam inhalation or aerosolized water inhalation can help to liquefy viscid sputum.
Mucolytics help by liquefying thick secretions.
Finally, oxygen should never be administered without adequate humidification as dry oxygen causes drying of the respiratory mucosa.
Mucolytic Agents Uses
The possible antitussive effect of pain relieving drugs such as morphine must be kept in mind while prescribing them in post-operative patients.
Finally, cough suppressants, especially in syrupy base, should be kept out of the reach of small children, as poisoning with them has been reported.
The active alkaloid, vasicine, and its derivative vasicinone, from the leaves of Ailhatoda vasaca, possess weak bronchodilator, expectorant and mucolytic properties.
The crude extract of this plant leaves in syrupy base appears to be safe and effective and has been used as a home remedy in India for ages.
Inspired water is administered either as a vapor (from a humidifier) or in particulate form (from a nebulizer) in patients with respiratory infection/irritation.
It decreases crusting of the respiratory mucosa, liquefies thick secretions, promotes mucociliary drainage, limits loss of body water and conserves body heat by reducing the evaporation in the airway.
It is also useful in patients whose airways are chronically intubated. Aerosols are used to deliver drugs such as bronchodilators and mucolytic agents to the airways.
Mucolytic agents are also used in lung infections to control of symptoms. Bronchodilators counter the respiratory distress due to bronchospasm.
If the asthmatic element is prominent, glucocorticoid may have to be employed. For liquefaction of thick and sticky secretions, mucolytic agents have been employed; their usefulness however, is doubtful.
Steam, inhalation and expectorants may facilitate the expulsion of secretions. If the patient is expectorating large quantities of sputum, postural coughing is highly beneficial.
An exacerbation of COPD can be defined as “an event in the natural course of the chronic disease, characterized by change in the baseline dyspnea, cough and sputum beyond the normal variation “.
It is usually triggered by bacteria, viruses and pollutants. The most common viruses are rhinovirus, coronavirus and influenza virus.
The common bacteria involved are H. influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, S. pneumoniae and Ps. pyogenes.
Purulent sputum is a reliable marker for bacterial infection, and should be treated promptly with antibiotics. Mucolytic agents, by and large, arc not useful for reducing the frequency of exacerbations.