What is dextromethorphan?

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Generic Name: Dextromethorphan Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is dextromethorphan used for?

Dextromethorphan is used for temporary relief of coughs without phlegm that are caused by certain infections of the air passages (e.g., sinusitis, common cold). Dextromethorphan should not usually be used for an ongoing cough from smoking or long-term breathing problems (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema) unless directed by your doctor. Dextromethorphan contains dextromethorphan. It is a cough suppressant that works by decreasing the feeling of needing to cough.

Cough-and-cold products have not been shown to be safe or effective in children younger than 6 years. Therefore, do not use dextromethorphan to treat cold symptoms in children younger than 6 years unless specifically directed by the doctor. Some products (such as long-acting tablets/capsules) are not recommended for use in children younger than 12 years. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details about using your product safely.

These products do not cure or shorten the length of the common cold and may cause serious side effects. To decrease the risk for serious side effects, carefully follow all dosage directions. Do not use dextromethorphan to make a child sleepy. Do not give other cough-and-cold medication that might contain the same or similar ingredients (see also Drug Interactions section). Ask the doctor or pharmacist about other ways to relieve cough and cold symptoms (such as drinking enough fluids, using a humidifier or saline nose drops/spray).

How should I take dextromethorphan?

Take dextromethorphan by mouth, usually every 4 to 12 hours as needed or as directed by your doctor. If stomach upset occurs, take with food or milk. Use a medication-measuring device to measure your dose of liquid medication. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. If you are taking a suspension, shake the product well before measuring out your dose.

Dosage is based on the product you are taking and your age, medical condition, and response to treatment. If you are using dextromethorphan for self-treatment (without a prescription from your doctor), follow the specific dosing instructions on the packaging to find the correct dose for your age.

If your doctor directs you to take dextromethorphan daily, take it regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.

Improper use of dextromethorphan (abuse) may result in serious harm (e.g., brain damage, seizure, death). Do not increase your dose, take it more frequently, or use it for a longer time than prescribed. Properly stop the medication when so directed.

Tell your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen after more than 1 week or if you also have fever, chills, headache, or rash. These may be signs of a more serious condition.

How do I store dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store dextromethorphan in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of dextromethorphan that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush dextromethorphan down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using dextromethorphan?

Before taking dextromethorphan,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to dextromethorphan, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in the product you plan to take. Check the package label for a list of the ingredients.
  • do not take dextromethorphan if you are taking a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate), or if you have stopped taking an MAO inhibitor within the past 2 weeks.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
  • tell your doctor if you smoke, if you have a cough that occurs with a large amount of phlegm (mucus), or if you have or have ever had breathing problems such as asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking dextromethorphan, call your doctor.
  • if you have phenylketonuria (PKU, an inherited condition in which a special diet must be followed to prevent mental retardation), you should know that some brands of chewable tablets that contain dextromethorphan may be sweetened with aspartame, a source of phenylalanine.

Is it safe to take dextromethorphan during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of dextromethorphan?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using dextromethorphan and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • severe dizziness, anxiety, restless feeling, or nervousness;
  • confusion, hallucinations;
  • slow, shallow breathing.

Less serious side effects are more likely, such as stomach upset.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Clorgyline, Iproniazid, Isocarboxazid, Moclobemide, Nialamide, Pargyline, Phenelzine, Procarbazine, Rasagiline, Selegiline, Toloxatone, Tranylcypromine.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Almotriptan, Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Bupropion, Citalopram, Clomipramine, Desipramine, Desvenlafaxine, Dolasetron, Doxepin, Duloxetine, Escitalopram, Fentanyl, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine, Granisetron, Hydroxytryptophan, Imipramine, Levomilnacipran, Linezolid, Lorcaserin, Meperidine, Milnacipran, Mirtazapine, Nortriptyline, Palonosetron, Paroxetine, Protriptyline, Sertraline, Sibutramine, Tramadol, Trazodone, Trimipramine, Venlafaxine, Vortioxetine.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Abiraterone Acetate, Clobazam, Haloperidol, Quinidine, Vemurafenib.

Does food or alcohol interact with dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Asthma—Since dextromethorphan decreases coughing, it makes it difficult to get rid of the mucus that collects in the lungs and airways during asthma.
  • Diabetes (sugar diabetes)—Some products contain sugar and may affect control of blood glucose monitoring.
  • Liver disease—Dextromethorphan may build up in the body and cause unwanted effects.
  • Chronic bronchitis.
  • Mucus or phlegm with cough—Since dextromethorphan decreases coughing, it makes it difficult to get rid of the mucus that may collect in the lungs and airways with some diseases.
  • Slowed breathing—Dextromethorphan may slow the rate of breathing even further.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Dextromethorphan for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Cough

Capsule, Liquid, Tablet, Syrup: 10 to 30 mg orally every 4 to 8 hours.
Lozenge: 3 lozenges (10 mg each) orally every 6 to 8 hours.
Sustained-release: 60 mg orally every 12 hours.
Oral disintegrating strip: 15 to 30 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours.
Maximum dose: 120 mg/day.

What is the dose of Dextromethorphan for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Cough

Dosage in children less than 4 years of age is not well established.

1 to 3 months: 0.5 to 1 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours.

4 to 6 months: 1 to 2 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours

7 months to 1 year: 2 to 4 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours

2 to 6 years:
Liquid, Lozenge, Tablet, Syrup: 2.5 to 7.5 mg orally every 4 to 8 hours.
5 mg/5 mL oral liquid: 5 mL orally every 4 hours. Not more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
Sustained-release: 15 mg orally every 12 hours.
Maximum dose: 30 mg/day.

7 to 12 years:
Disintegrating strip: dissolve 2 strips on tongue every 6 to 8 hours.
Liquid, Lozenge, Tablet, Syrup: 5 to 10 mg orally every 4 hours or 15 mg every 6 to 8 hours.
5 mg/5 mL oral liquid: 10 mL orally every 4 hours. Not more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
Sustained-release: 30 mg orally every 12 hours.
Maximum dose: 60 mg/day.

12 years or older:
Capsule, Liquid, Lozenge, Tablet, Syrup: 10 to 30 mg orally every 4 to 8 hours.
Sustained-release: 60 mg orally every 12 hours.
Oral disintegrating strip: 15 to 30 mg orally every 6 to 8 hours.
Maximum dose: 120 mg/day.

How is dextromethorphan available?

Dextromethorphan is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Buckleys Cough
– Liquid, oral 12.5 mg/5 mL

Creomulsion
– Syrup, oral 20 mg/15 mL
– Syrup, oral 5 mg/5 mL

Creo-Terpin
– Liquid, oral 10 mg/15 mL

Delsym
– Liquid, ER, oral dextromethorphan polistirex equivalent to dextromethorphan hydrobromide 30 mg/5 mL

Diabetes CF
– Syrup, oral 10 mg/5 mL

ElixSure Cough
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL

Father John’s Medicine
– Syrup, oral 10 mg/5 mL

Hold DM
– Lozenges 5 mg

Little Colds Cough Formula
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/mL

Long-Acting Cough Suppressant
– Liquid, oral 15 mg/5 mL

Pediacare Children’s Long-Acting
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL

Robafen Cough
– Capsules, oral 15 mg

Robitussin Children’s Cough LA
– Syrup, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL

Robitussin Cough Gels
– Capsules, oral 15 mg

Robitussin Maximum Strength
– Syrup, oral 15 mg/5 mL

Silphen DM
– Syrup 10 mg/5 mL

Simply Cough
– Syrup, oral 5 mg/5 mL

St. Joseph Cough Suppressant
– Liquid 7.5 mg/5 mL

Sucrets DM
– Lozenges 10 mg

Sucrets DM Cough
– Lozenges 10 mg

Triaminic Long Acting Cough
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL
– Strip, oral 7.5 mg

Trocal
– Lozenges 7.5 mg

Tussin Cough
– Capsules, oral 15 mg
– Syrup, oral 15 mg/5 mL

Vick’s DayQuil
– Liquid, oral 15 mg/15 mL

Vick’s Formula 44 Cough Relief
– Liquid, oral 30 mg/15 mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Unsteadiness;
  • changes in vision;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • fast heartbeat;
  • hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist);
  • seizures;
  • coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time).

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of dextromethorphan, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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