Which is better for cough Delsym or mucinex?

When it comes to choosing between Delsym and Mucinex for cough relief, there are a few key factors to consider. Both medications can be effective for treating different types of coughs, but they have some important differences.

What is Delsym?

Delsym (dextromethorphan) is an over-the-counter cough suppressant that works by blocking cough reflexes in the brain. It comes in extended-release formulations that allow the medication to provide cough relief for up to 12 hours.

Delsym is available in several forms:

  • Delsym (regular strength): 30 mg dextromethorphan per 5 mL
  • Delsym 12 Hour (extended-release): 60 mg dextromethorphan per 5 mL
  • Delsym 12 Hour Cough+ (extended-release with guaifenesin): 30 mg dextromethorphan + 600 mg guaifenesin per 5 mL

Delsym is most effective for dry, non-productive coughs. It can provide short-term relief for coughs caused by minor throat and bronchial irritation or coughs that linger after a cold.

What is Mucinex?

Mucinex (guaifenesin) is an expectorant that helps thin mucus secretions and loosen phlegm, making coughs more productive. It is available in immediate-release and extended-release formulations.

The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin. Common formulations include:

  • Mucinex Fast-Max (immediate-release): 600 mg guaifenesin per tablet
  • Mucinex 12 Hour (extended-release): 600 mg guaifenesin per tablet
  • Mucinex DM 12 Hour (extended-release with dextromethorphan): 600 mg guaifenesin + 30 mg dextromethorphan per tablet

Mucinex is most useful for wet, productive coughs associated with excess mucus and congestion, like coughs due to colds, flu, bronchitis, or sinusitis. The expectorant properties help loosen mucus so it can be coughed up more easily.

Key Differences

Here are some of the main differences between Delsym and Mucinex:

Delsym Mucinex
Cough suppressant Expectorant
Blocks cough reflex Loosens mucus
Best for dry coughs Best for wet, productive coughs
Active ingredient is dextromethorphan (an antitussive) Active ingredient is guaifenesin (an expectorant)
Provides short-term cough relief Helps clear mucus and phlegm from airways
Maximum of 120 mg dextromethorphan per day Maximum of 2,400 mg guaifenesin per day

When to Use Delsym

Delsym is the better choice for dry, hacking coughs that need to be suppressed. Reasons to use Delsym include:

  • Non-productive cough with little to no phlegm or mucus
  • Cough caused by tickling or irritation in throat
  • Cough that lingers after a cold
  • Cough that disrupts sleep

Since it provides short-term cough relief by blocking cough reflexes, Delsym is useful for suppressing annoying coughs that don’t serve a productive purpose. The extended-release formulations allow relief to last through the night.

When to Use Mucinex

Mucinex is more effective for wet, chesty coughs that are productive. Reasons to use Mucinex include:

  • Cough that produces thick, sticky phlegm or mucus
  • Cough due to chest congestion from a cold, flu, or respiratory infection
  • Cough associated with bronchitis, pneumonia, or COPD flare-up
  • Cough with sinus drainage

Since Mucinex thins mucus and makes coughs more productive, it can help clear congestion and mucus from the airways in conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD, or a sinus infection. This helps you cough up phlegm more easily.

Combination Products

Some over-the-counter cough medicines combine both dextromethorphan and guaifenesin, such as:

  • Delsym 12 Hour Cough+
  • Mucinex DM
  • Robitussin DM

These combination medications can provide cough relief in two ways – suppressing the cough reflex while also thinning mucus. They may be a good option for wet coughs that also need some cough suppression for relief.

Safety Tips

When using either Delsym or Mucinex, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Take only as directed and don’t exceed maximum daily doses.
  • Avoid using with other over-the-counter cough medicines containing the same active ingredients.
  • Don’t use for chronic coughs lasting more than 1 week without consulting a doctor.
  • Supervise use carefully in children and don’t exceed children’s dosing.
  • Don’t take with alcohol or other medicines or supplements that can cause drowsiness.


In summary, Delsym is better suited for suppressing dry, non-productive coughs while Mucinex is more effective for productive coughs with mucus congestion. Consider the type of cough symptoms when deciding which medication to use. Combination products are also available that contain both dextromethorphan and guaifenesin for multisymptom relief. Be sure to follow dosage guidelines and safety precautions when using either medication.

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