Acetylcysteine Inhalation Solution

Name: Acetylcysteine Inhalation Solution

Important warnings

  • Warning for people with asthma: Make sure someone is with you when you take acetylcysteine. You’reat increased risk of wheezing, tightness in your chest, and trouble breathing (bronchospasm) after inhaling this drug.

What is acetylcysteine?

Acetylcysteine is a prescription drug. It comes in a solution that you inhale. It’s only available as a generic drug.

This drug can be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

However, don’t mix acetylcysteine with other drugs in a nebulizer. This use hasn’t been studied.

Why it's used

Acetylcysteine is used to help break up the thick, sticky mucous that can form in your airways if you have certain diseases. These diseases include bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and tuberculosis.

How it works

Acetylcysteine belongs to a class of drugs called mucolytics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Acetylcysteine reacts with the chemicals in mucous to make it less sticky and easier to cough up. This will clear your airways and make it easier for you to breathe.

Acetylcysteine warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Acetylcysteine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Warning for people with asthma

After inhaling this drug, you’re at increased risk of wheezing, tightness in your chest, and trouble breathing. Make sure someone is with you when you take acetylcysteine.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: Acetylcysteine is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown a risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

For women who are breastfeeding: Acetylcysteine may pass into breast milk. This may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this drug.

Important considerations for taking acetylcysteine

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes acetylcysteine for you.


You can take acetylcysteine with or without food.


  • Store unopened acetylcysteine vials at room temperature. Keep them at temperatures ranging from 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). Keep them away from high temperatures.
  • If you use only some of the solution in a vial, store the rest in a refrigerator. Use it within 4 days.
  • If you need to dilute your dose, use it within 1 hour.
  • The solution may change color after you open the vial. This won’t change how well the drug works.


A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.


When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.


Checking lung function: Your doctor may have you check your lung function. They may also ask you to record your symptoms or to check how well your lungs are working. You’ll do this with a device called a peak flow meter.

Using a nebulizer: To take this drug, you need to use a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a machine that turns the drug into a mist that you inhale. Not all nebulizers work in the same way. Your doctor will tell you which type to use and will show you how to use it.

These are the basic steps to set up and use your nebulizer:

  • Connect the hose to an air compressor.
  • Fill the medication cup with your dose. To avoid spills, close the medicationcup tightly and always hold the mouthpiece straight up and down.
  • Attach the hose and mouthpiece to the medicationcup.
  • Place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Hold your lips firmly around the mouthpiece so that all of the medicationgoes into your lungs.
  • Breathe through your mouth until all the medicationis used. This can take 10–15 minutes or more. If needed, use a nose clip so that you breathe only through your mouth. Small children usually do better if they wear a mask.
  • Turn off the machine when done.

Wash the medicationcup and mouthpiece with water and air dry until your next treatment. It’s important to keep your nebulizer clean so that it works properly.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will check your lung function. Your doctor will monitor your lung function with pulmonary function tests. These are breathing tests.


Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead to make sure they carry it.

Hidden costs

You need a nebulizer to use this drug at home. A nebulizer is a machine that turns the liquid solution into a mist, which can then be inhaled. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of a nebulizer.

Depending on your condition, you may need to buy a peak flow meter. You can buy a peak flow meter at your local pharmacy.