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Fact Checked

What is Bronkaid?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one in every thirteen people, or about 25 million Americans, suffer from asthma. About 7.7 percent of adults and 8.4 percent of children in the United States suffer from asthma, and the numbers have been on the rise since the 1980s across all ages, races, and genders. Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children, and over 11.4 million people had one or more asthma episodes or attacks in 2017. Some people, including those with serious or life-threatening cases of asthma, rely on inhalers to control their symptoms, while others find that they can manage their symptoms by making lifestyle changes and taking over-the-counter medications that provide temporary relief from symptoms of intermittent asthma, like Bronkaid. 

What Is Bronkaid?

Bronkaid (ephedrine sulfate and guaifenesin) is a medication designed to treat symptoms of intermittent asthma that is sold at drug stores like CVS and Walgreens as well as big-box stores like Walmart and Target. Bronkaid is not available over-the-counter (OTC) in the traditional sense; while it does not require a prescription in most states, Bronkaid must be purchased directly from the pharmacy counter. The medication is sold as a dual-action capsule with two components: ephedrine sulfate and guaifenesin.  Ephedrine sulfate is a decongestant that helps by allowing easier breathing, while guaifenesin is an expectorant that helps to loosen and thin congestion in your chest and throat. 

What Conditions Is Bronkaid Used to Treat?

Bronkaid is designed to provide temporary asthma relief, and can help treat difficulty breathing and difficulty expelling mucus, and should only be used by patients that have been officially diagnosed with asthma by their doctor. Symptoms treated by Bronkaid include wheezing, tightness of chest, shortness of breath, and chest congestion.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of air passageways, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma is triggered by things like pollen, extreme weather changes, dust mites, exercise, chemicals, smoke, and stress, and each person’s triggers are different. People with asthma must learn to identify their triggers and avoid them where possible. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness, and it can cause a medical emergency. Asthma is generally diagnosed by a physical exam, lung function tests, and a chest or sinus x-ray. 

Chest Congestion

Mucus is needed to protect, moisten, and defend our airways, and it is a natural part of the human body. Mucus membranes line the mouth, nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs and help protect the body against infection by keeping out dust, allergens, irritants, bacteria, and viruses. When exposed to allergens or airborne pollution, the body can produce too much mucus while attempting to protect us from additional disease and irritation. Often, the same triggers that cause asthma attacks can lead to increased production of mucus. Congestion occurs when the body produces too much mucus or when it becomes too thick, dry, or dense to be coughed up.

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How Does Bronkaid Work?

Bronkaid uses two different medications as active ingredients, ephedrine sulfate, and guaifenesin, to temporarily relieve mild symptoms associated with intermittent asthma. Ephedrine sulfate is a bronchodilator and decongestant that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, allowing a person experiencing asthma symptoms to breathe more easily. Bronchodilators work on specific receptors in the body to cause the bronchial smooth muscle to relax, which results in freer breathing and relief from the chest tightness and wheezing associated with asthma. Guaifenesin is an expectorant that thins mucus in the lungs and chest, making it easier to clear from the body. Scientists believe that guaifenesin works by causing a reflex stimulation in the bronchial glands, which results in a decrease in the thickness of bronchial mucus.

What Are the Benefits of Using Bronkaid?

The biggest benefit of using Bronkaid is that the medication will help relieve mild asthma symptoms and thin and loosen the mucus in the lungs, making it easier to breathe and expel the mucus.  Bronkaid is inexpensive and easy to find at your local pharmacy, and it does not require a prescription in most states, so you won’t need to take a trip to a doctor’s office once your doctor has recommended Bronkaid to you.  Bronkaid does not treat the root cause of asthma and it cannot prevent an asthma attack, but it does help to improve symptoms once asthma symptoms appear.

What Dose of Bronkaid Should I Take?

Bronkaid is sold in packages of 24 and 60 caplets, and each caplet includes 25 mg of ephedrine sulfate and 400 mg of guaifenesin. Adults and children 12 years of age and older are directed to take one capsule every four hours, not to exceed six capsules 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. Patients should not exceed the recommended dosing instructions of Bronkaid unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Bronkaid may be taken with or without food, but it should not be used with food or beverages that contain caffeine. 

What Side Effects Are Associated With Bronkaid?

Most side effects associated with Bronkaid are generally 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:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nervousness

Infrequent and generally mild side effects of Bronkaid include:

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

Rare and generally mild side effects of Bronkaid include:

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

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
  • Paradoxical bronchospasm
  • Seizures
  • Mental problems

If you notice that your asthma symptoms are getting worse, you have difficulty sleeping, experience a rapid heartbeat, have tremors, nervousness, or seizure, or you have a cough with phlegm lasting longer than seven days, comes back, or occurs in conjunction with a fever, rash, or persistent headache, or other allergic reactions, stop the use of Bronkaid and talk to your doctor.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Taking Bronkaid?

Bronkaid is generally considered a safe medication, but there are some risks associated with its use. Because asthma can be a life-threatening condition, patients should seek medical help if they 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. Taking Bronkaid can cause your blood pressure or heart rate to increase, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, which can cause death. Patients with a history of high blood pressure or heart disease or who take the medication more frequently or in higher doses than recommended have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Due to the tendency of Bronkaid to increase blood pressure and heart rate, it should not be taken while consuming food or beverages that contain caffeine or supplements that have a stimulant effect.

Is Bronkaid Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers to Take?

Because Bronkaid is an FDA-designated Class C drug for pregnant women, the full effects of the medication on unborn babies have not been conclusively studied, and use during pregnancy is recommended only when the benefit outweighs the risk. Existing data does not show an association between Bronkaid and birth defects, but there is no controlled data on human pregnancy currently available. Because of the lack of data surrounding Bronkaid’s effect on unborn children, it is recommended that you get medical advice before using the medication. Breastfeeding mothers should also take Bronkaid only when the benefits outweigh the risks, as irritability and excessive crying have been documented in infants whose mothers take Bronkaid while breastfeeding. 

Who Should Not Take Bronkaid?

While Bronkaid is generally considered a safe medication, some 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
    • Heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Thyroid disease
    • Seizures
    • 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 mucus
  • People who are 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 should not take Bronkaid. It should be stored out of the reach of children and if used by children, contact the Poison Control Center immediately.
  • People taking any medication that contains phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, or caffeine should not take this medication.
Published May 9th, 2020 by Bridget Reed
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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