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Fact Checked

Bronkaid side effects: What are they?

The leading chronic disease in children in the United States is asthma, which affects approximately one in every thirteen people, or about 25 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The United States has seen a spike in the rates of asthma across all age, race, and gender groups since the 1980s, and today, about 7.7 percent of adults and 8.4 percent of children suffer from asthma. Nearly half of asthma sufferers, about 11.4 million people, reported having one or more asthma episodes or attacks in 2017. While some people have severe, life-threatening asthma attacks and rely on inhalers to control their symptoms, other people have more intermittent and mild cases that can be managed by taking over-the-counter medications that provide relief, such as Bronkaid. 

What Is Bronkaid?

Bronkaid is a dual-action caplet composed of ephedrine sulfate and guaifenesin that helps to treat symptoms of intermittent asthma. Each component of the medication has a specific job that helps provide relief to asthma sufferers; ephedrine sulfate is a decongestant that helps by allowing easier breathing, while guaifenesin loosens and thins congestion in your chest and throat. Bronkaid can be purchased at drug stores like CVS and Walgreens as well as big-box stores like Walmart and Target, but it must be purchased directly from the pharmacy counter rather than actually over the counter (OTC). Bronkaid does not require a prescription for purchase in most states but check with your pharmacy if you are unsure about your state’s specific guidelines. 

What Is Bronkaid Used to Treat?

Bronkaid is used for temporary asthma relief and can help treat difficulty breathing and difficulty expelling mucus. While most people think of asthma as difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and chest congestion are all symptoms of asthma. Bronkaid addresses each of these symptoms, but it should only be used by patients that have been officially diagnosed with asthma by their doctor. 

Asthma

Asthma is characterized by inflammation of air passageways, which makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a chronic disease triggered by things like exercise,  pollen, chemicals, extreme weather changes, smoke, dust mites, and stress, but each person’s triggers are different. People with asthma must manage their symptoms by identifying their individual triggers and avoiding them whenever possible, and some people require daily medication to control their asthma. Symptoms of an asthma attack or asthma episode may include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness, and episodes can range from mild to severe; asthma can be a life-threatening emergency when an asthma attack is severe. Asthma is diagnosed by a physician through a physical exam, lung function tests, and a chest or sinus x-ray. 

Chest Congestion

While many people do not associate chest congestion with asthma, many asthma attacks or episodes cause chest congestion due to the overproduction of mucus in the body in response to triggers. Mucus helps to protect, moisten, and defend our airways, and we produce an appropriate amount of it under normal circumstances. Mucous membranes can be found inside the mouth, nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs and trap dust, allergens, bacteria, irritants, and viruses, helping to protect the body against infection.  When the body produces too much mucus or when the mucus becomes too thick, dry, or dense to be coughed up, chest congestion occurs.  People with asthma often experience chest congestion because the same triggers that cause asthma attacks often cause our bodies to overproduce mucus in an attempt to protect us from additional disease and irritation. 

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Bronkaid?

The majority of side effects associated with Bronkaid are considered mild and usually do not require medical attention. Side effects associated with Bronkaid are categorized as common and mild, infrequent and mild, rare and mild, and rare and potentially severe. Common and generally mild side effects of Bronkaid include:

  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Infrequent and generally mild side effects of Bronkaid include:

  • Muscle tremors
  • Throat dryness
  • Headache
  • Loss of skin color
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Generalized weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Rare and generally mild side effects of Bronkaid include:

  • Temporary redness of face or neck
  • Irritation of the stomach or intestines
  • Anxious feelings

Rare and potentially serious side effects of Bronkaid are unlikely but have been known to occur. These include:

  • A stroke
  • A heart attack
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Chest pain
  • Mental problems
  • Paradoxical bronchospasm
  • Seizures

Patients should stop the use of Bronkaid and seek medical help if asthma symptoms worsen, you have difficulty sleeping, have tremors, nervousness, or seizure, experience a rapid heartbeat, or you have a cough with phlegm lasting longer than seven days, comes back, or occurs in conjunction with a fever, rash, persistent headache or any allergic reaction.

What Are the Components of Bronkaid and How Do They Work?

Bronkaid is made up of two active ingredients, ephedrine sulfate and guaifenesin, which help temporarily relieve mild symptoms associated with intermittent asthma. Ephedrine sulfate is a bronchodilator and decongestant that narrows the blood vessels, allowing asthma sufferers to breathe more easily during an attack. These bronchodilators are believed to work on specific receptors in the body to cause the bronchial smooth muscle to relax, allowing sufferers to breathe more freely and providing relief from the chest tightness and wheezing associated with asthma. Guaifenesin is an expectorant that addresses the chest congestion component of an asthma episode. Guaifenesin thins mucus in the lungs and chest, making it easier to clear mucus from the body. Expectorants cause a reflex stimulation in the bronchial glands, which results in a decrease in the thickness of bronchial mucus. 

What Dose of Bronkaid Should I Take?

Because Bronkaid is only sold in one strength, dosing instructions are simple. The medication is sold in packages of 24 and 60 caplets, and each caplet contains 25 mg of ephedrine sulfate and 400 mg of guaifenesin. Adults and children 12 years of age and older should take one caplet every four hours, with no more than six caplets in 24 hours, or use as directed by a doctor. Children under the age of 12 should not use Bronkaid unless directed by a doctor. People using Bronkaid should not exceed the recommended dosages and frequencies unless told to do so by a doctor. Bronkaid can be taken with or without food, but it should not be taken with food or beverages that contain caffeine. 

What Benefits Are Associated With Bronkaid?

Bronkaid effectively helps to relieve mild asthma symptoms and thins and loosens the mucus in the lungs, making it easier to breathe and expel excess mucus. Bronkaid is generally considered safe for most people, and most side effects are mild. Purchasing Bronkaid is convenient because it does not require a prescription in most states, helping to eliminate a doctor’s visit once you have been diagnosed with asthma.  The medication is considered affordable for most people and is highly accessible.

What Risks Are Associated with Taking Bronkaid?

Bronkaid is generally considered a safe medication for adults and children over the age of 12, but there are some risks associated with using the medication. Patients who do not experience relief within 60 minutes of taking Bronkaid, start experiencing worse symptoms, need to take more than 6 capsules in 24 hours, take more than 4 capsules in 24 hours 3 or more days per week, or have 2 asthma attacks in a week should seek medical attention because this can be a sign that your asthma is getting worse. Bronkaid can cause an increase in both blood pressure and heart rate, so patients who have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease should use caution when taking the medication, as its use can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Exceeding the dosage recommendations also puts people at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The medication should not be taken while consuming food, beverages, or supplements that contain caffeine or cause a stimulant effect because Bronkaid can increase blood pressure and heart rate.

Is Bronkaid Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers?

Bronkaid has not been conclusively studied with regards to the effects of the medication on unborn babies, so the medication is classified as an FDA-designated Class C drug for pregnant women. Class C drugs should only be used when the benefit to the patient clearly outweighs the risk to the fetus. There is no existing evidence that shows an association between Bronkaid and birth defects, but no controlled data on human pregnancy is currently available. Bronkaid’s manufacturer recommends that you seek medical advice before using the medication while pregnant. Irritability and excessive crying have been observed in infants whose mothers have taken Bronkaid while breastfeeding, so breastfeeding mothers should also take Bronkaid only when the benefits outweigh the risks.

Who Should Not Take Bronkaid?

The following people should not take Bronkaid:

  • People taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or people who have used an MAOI drug within the past two weeks
  • People with a history of any of the following should talk to their doctors about their medical history before taking Bronkaid
    • Previously hospitalized for asthma
    • Narrow angle glaucoma
    • Psychiatric or emotional condition
    • Trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland
    • Persistent or chronic cough associated with smoking, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema
    • Cough combined with excessive mucous heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Thyroid disease
    • Seizures
  • People taking prescription drugs for asthma, obesity, weight control, depression, or other psychiatric conditions should speak to their doctor before taking Bronkaid.
  • Children under the age of 12. Keep out of the reach of children and if used by a child contact the Poison Control Center immediately.
  • People taking any medication that contains phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, or caffeine 
Published May 11th, 2020 by Bridget Reed
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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