Ambroxol: uses and indications

Ambroxol, administered as a hydrochloride, It is a medicine that belongs to the family of mucolytic drugs. Therefore, it is used for the treatment of bronchial processes.

It is a metabolite of bromhexine, this being the prodrug. A prodrug is a medication that by itself does not have any therapeutic action. However, when administered and absorbed, it undergoes a series of chemical reactions and is transformed into another substance that does have therapeutic effects.

Ambroxol is presented as a solution, syrup, pediatric drops or tablets. The recommendations for administration of this medicine are:

  • Adults: The recommended doses are between 60 and 90 mg / day in two or three administrations.
  • Children over 5 years old: the administration of 15 mg / 5 ml is recommended, corresponding to one teaspoon, 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Children between 2 and 5 years old: half a tablespoon of syrup 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Under 2 years old: half a teaspoon of syrup twice a day.

Therapeutic indications of ambroxol

As we have mentioned, it is the active metabolite of bromhexine. In its hydrochloride form it has mucolytic effects. It is effective in bronchial processes that require the mobilization of phlegm to prevent them from stagnating and forming a thick mucus in the pulmonary alveoli.

Ambroxol can be administered alone or in combination with other bronchodilator drugs. in order to improve the effect on bronchial processes. For example, in combination with salbutamol, ambroxol increases its spasmolytic activity and has an additive effect on mucociliary activity, which increases expectoration.

How does ambroxol exert its effect on the body?

This medicine acts on pneumocytes (cells of the alveoli) type II. It causes a stimulation of surfactant production. Thanks to this, it is possible to decrease the viscosity and adhesiveness of the mucus. In this way, the formed plug is dissolved and secretion mobilization is facilitated.

In short, ambroxol It owes its effectiveness to its ability to act intracellularly by promoting synthesis and secretion of the surfactant. alveolar and bronchial, which forms a film throughout the respiratory epithelium.

Also, this medicine is able to increase the vibrational power of the cell epithelium. In this way, the mucus adhesiveness is reduced and the sliding and transport of bronchial secretions to the outside is facilitated. Its objective is to avoid concomitant obstructions.

Read also: Severe acute asthma: symptoms and treatment

Pharmacokinetics: what happens to the drug in the body?

Ambroxol, as we have seen, is administered orally. Once the dose is taken, it is quickly absorbed through the intestine. When taken on an empty stomach, the maximum plasma concentration is reached at 2 1/2 hours. Its bioavailability is 60%, which means that, at the time of exercising the action, only 60% of the administered dose is available.

This medicine binds extensively to plasma proteins to be distributed throughout the body. This fact is important since, if it is administered together with another medicine that also binds to plasma proteins, ambroxol can be displaced and increase its free plasma concentration. As a consequence, its effects would be enhanced and It could trigger a toxic picture.

Discover: Drug poisoning, what to do?

Ambroxol adverse reactions

The most common adverse reactions triggered by the administration of ambroxol they are gastrointestinal. However, they usually disappear when treatment is discontinued. Some of the most frequent side effects are:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

How this medicine can irritate the gastric mucosa, it is not recommended to take it in case you suffer from gastritis or peptic ulcer. In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it as it could cause vomiting.

Despite this, ambroxol It is a very well tolerated drug. No serious symptoms have been reported due to ambroxol overdose. Symptoms that are seen most frequently after high dose administration include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Rashes.
  • Fatigue.

In case there has been an overdose, it is recommended to wash the digestive tract by inducing vomiting and, if there are no contractions, the administration of active carbon.


Ambroxol is an active metabolite of bromhexine that It is used for the treatment of bronchial processes in which it is necessary to increase the secretion of mucus. It can be administered together with other medications that favor its action, such as salbutamol.

However, if you are taking another medication, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist if you can take ambroxol, since both could interact and produce unwanted effects.