“Current treatments options for URTIs, if they are to be treated, include OTC medication options such as NSAIDs, antitussives, decongestants, mucolytics, and expectorants,” said Marks et al.2 “While these OTC medications can sometimes be effective in alleviating some of the symptoms of URTIs, additional and more effective treatments of URTIs and associated symptoms are strongly desired.”2
Acetylcysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid solution that, acting as a mucolytic agent, “is used to help clear mucus and material entrapped in mucus in patients with mucus that may interfere with breathing or other functions3,” the RxList explained. A potent antioxidant acetylcysteine may also protect the lungs from free radicals generated by inflammatory cells activated by influenza virus infection.4
In their meta-analysis of studies that evaluated the efficacy of acetylcysteine as a symptomatic treatment for acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections (RTIs), Chalumeau et al found the treatment reduced the risk of cough by 63% after 6-7 days. According to the researchers the studies suggest that acetylcysteine may reduce frequency, intensity, and duration of symptoms in acute upper and lower RTIs.5
When it comes to recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, the results of a study by Macchi et al. confirmed that adding N-acetylcysteine to the standard treatment with flunisolide, delivered by atomised nasal douche, is an effective strategy to stop the pathogenetic loop that maintains the conditions of recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, and improves patients' conditions, with effects that last up to six months after the end of the treatment.6
Meanwhile, Yadav et al found N-acetylcysteine in combination with an antibiotic to be helpful for the treatment of chronic sinusitis. “It not only helps in removal of stagnated mucus by improving nasal mucociliary clearance but also help the antibiotic to be more effective7,” the researchers reported.
Supporting the fact that sinusitis and colds respond to alternative medical treatments, MedHelp recommended 600mg 2-3 times per day. “N-acetylcysteine is a great anti-inflammatory and can shorten the illness by 2-3 days8.”