When looking for the treatment of respiratory problems like cold, cough, infection, or any sort of allergies and looking for its medications, expectorant and decongestants are some common terms. Each of them uses totally different methods to deal with respiratory problems, although both of them are packaged together only.
What is most important for the patient to understand while taking these medications is that they do not cure any underlying illness while they do help in relieving the symptoms and reducing the inflammations caused by the illness in the respiratory system.
Expectorant vs Decongestant
The main difference between expectorant and decongestant is the part of the respiratory system they treat particularly. Decongestant is given when there is swelling in the nasal passage, gives relief to a stuffy nose, headache due to sinus, difficulty in hearing due to excess phlegm. Decongestant makes that phlegm run faster to make it easier to spit or expel from the system.
Expectorants are the medications for the respiratory system and its illnesses. Expectorants can be natural ingredients, too, basically any ingredient that helps clear the mucus from the airway and doesn’t let the breathing obstruct. In common cold or flu, people often take them as it helps to alleviate the congestion too.
Decongestants are the medicines used for treating problems with the respiratory system. They are generally used while facing the problem of a stuffy or blocked nose. While having congestion for any sort of reason, decongestants are preferred. Cold, fever, sinusitis, any kind of allergies, and for rhinitis, decongestants are used. They are usually available as nose drops, nasal sprays, and tablets too.
Comparison Table Between Expectorant and Decongestant
|Parameters of Comparison||Expectorant||Decongestant|
|Mucus or phlegm||Expectorant attacks on the phlegm but not in the nose or throat but that present in the throat.||Decongestant helps loosen the mucus and phlegm present in the throat and the nose.|
|Drug||Medication of expectorant is derived from the drug named guaifenesin.||Drugs used in the medication of a decongestant are- pseudoephedrine or mild phenylephrine.|
|Alternatives||Syrup of ipecac has been used for a long in the place of an expectorant.||In place of decongestants, exposure to strong spices, onion, or even snorting salt water is used.|
|Side effects||Side effects after taking expectorant can be vomiting, stomach ache, skin rash, nausea, etc.||Side effects after taking decongestants can be irritation, dryness, burning sensation around the nose, etc.|
|Treatment||Expectorant reduces the thickness of the mucus, which further makes it thinner for the airways in secretion.||Decongestants are used while having congestion.|
What is Expectorant?
Expectorants are sold in the market as a standalone drug and as an ingredient too for all-in-one cold or flu medications. When people have a cough that is producing mucus, expectorants are given to the patient as it gives relief in that area. These types of drugs are either called ‘productive’ or ‘wet’. What an expectorant does is reduces the thickness of the mucus, which further makes it thinner for the airways in secretion.
After loosening the mucus, expectorants makes it easier for the person to secret the phlegm through cough, which clears out the throat. Talking about the ingredients of expectorants, the medicinal ones have an active ingredient that makes the mucus quite thin, which further makes the cough more productive as while coughing, all the phlegm comes out too.
What is Decongestant?
Decongestants are used while having congestion in the chest. They are used when having a cold, fever, flu, or any sort of allergies quite commonly. This is why they are available in different forms like nose drops, nasal sprays, or even as tablets. Although, these nasal sprays or nose drops of decongestants should not be used for more than seven days constantly.
Decongestants are used while having congestion. Congestion can be caused due to several reasons like cold, flu, high fever, sinusitis, and rhinitis. Due to these conditions, there is swelling in the tissue and in the blood vessel that makes the nasal pass away in a line. Decongestants can be of many different numbers. Some of them that are available in the UK are- ephedrine, Oxymetazoline, etc.
Main Differences Between Expectorant and Decongestant
- The main difference between expectorant and decongestant is that Expectorant attacks on the phlegm but not in the nose or throat but that present in the throat while Decongestant helps loosen the mucus and phlegm present in the throat and in the nose.
- Medication of expectorant is derived from the drug named guaifenesin, while Drugs used in the medication of a decongestant are- pseudoephedrine or mild phenylephrine.
- Syrup of ipecac has been used for a long in the place of an expectorant, and in place of decongestants, exposure to strong spices, onion, or even snorting salt water is used.
- Side effects after taking an expectorant can be vomiting, stomach ache, skin rash, nausea, etc., while side effects after taking a decongestant can be irritation, dryness, burning sensation around the nose, etc.
- Expectorant reduces the thickness of the mucus, which further makes thinner for the airways in secretion while Decongestants are used while having congestion.
It takes us to the conclusion that both the drugs are given while having any respiratory problem. Both of them might have the same packaging and the same system for the treatment, but the methods are totally different two. Although, there might be some side effects of both these drugs. Plus, there should be taken with some well-advised precautions. Like expectorant nasal drops or spray should not be taken for constantly seven days.
Decongestants are basically used while having congestion which can be caused due to several reasons. Expectorants, on the other hand, are used while people have a common cold, cough, allergies, or any other common symptoms.