It is a brand-name cough syrup that contains the generic medication called dextromethorphan, which acts as a cough suppressant by affecting the signals in the brain which trigger the cough reflex.
Dextromethorphan (available without a prescription in the US since 1958) belongs to a group of medications called cough suppressants that will offer temporary relief to that nagging cough associated with a cold, the common flu, or due to inhaled irritants.
However, this medicine is different than other cough suppressants since it has an extended-release suspension designed to last for up to 12 hours per dose. Furthermore, this medicine will not treat a cough that is caused by asthma or smoking.
When administered in doses well above those considered therapeutic to treat an ongoing cough, this drug is known to create an altered time perception, a heightened sense of perceptual awareness, and visual hallucinations.
More importantly, people abusing this drug tend to display lethargy, hyper-excitability, slurred speech, ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements), hypertension, sweating, and nystagmus (rapid, involuntary, and repetitive movement of the eyes).
Because this type of medicine is quite powerful, it is usually kept behind the counter in drug stores, however, it can still be found on the shelf in some stores.
- slowed breathing;
- stomach pain;
- blurred vision;
- unsteady walk;
- difficulty in urination.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, lips, or throat;
- unusual hoarseness;
- trouble breathing;
- swollen, red, blistered, or peeling skin;
- tightness in the chest or throat;
- irritability, restlessness, nervousness, and unusual excitement.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Talk to your healthcare provider before using this drug if you are breastfeeding since there are no conclusive studies if this medication can pass into the breast milk and harm the infant.
Talk to your healthcare provider before using this drug if you are pregnant since there are no conclusive studies about whether this medication can negatively affect the unborn baby.
Do not use this medicine in children younger than 6 years unless specifically directed by your healthcare professional.
A dangerous drug interaction could occur if you use this drug and if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past two weeks. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the first class of antidepressants developed and include – linezolid, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, methylene blue injection, selegiline, rasagiline, and tranylcypromine.
Keep this medicine out of the reach of children and store it at room temperature.
It is the trademark name for guaifenesin (also referred to as glyceryl guaiacolate), an expectorant. However, this drug is typically not used for ongoing coughs from asthma, smoking, emphysema, as well as from coughs with a lot of mucus.
Robitussin DM contains two active ingredients:
- guaifenesin – it is an expectorant drug that helps loosen congestion in the throat and chest, hence, helping to cough out through the mouth;
- dextromethorphan – it is a cough suppressant that affects the signals in the brain which trigger the cough reflex. In addition, dextromethorphan helps to dislodge and loosen mucus, particularly when combined with guaiphenesin.
It comes in maximum strength, regular strength, children’s formulations, and sugar-free. Additionally, it comes in a liquid form which you may take by mouth.
Speak to your healthcare provider if your cough does not abate after a week. Store this drug in a cool, dry place.
Side Effects And Precautions
Common side effects may include:
- upset stomach;
- dry mouth;
Serious side effects (very rare) may include:
- skin rash;
- severe dizziness;
- shallow breathing;
- weak pulse;
- slow heart rate;
- tingling under your skin;
- urinating less than usual;
- unusual behavior;
- unusual thoughts;
If you have signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, get emergency professional medical help. These symptoms include – difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of your lips, face, throat, and tongue.
It is not known whether this medicine will have a negative effect on an unborn baby, therefore, stay on the safe side and avoid it. More importantly, it is not recommended to use this drug:
- if you are 4 years old or younger;
- if you ever had Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare but serious disorder that makes skin blister;
- if you are breastfeeding;
- if you have high blood pressure;
- if you have diabetes;
- if you have thyroid disease;
- if you are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Delsym vs Robitussin – Which Is Best To Treat Ongoing Coughs?
They are both advertised as medicines that act as a cough suppressant. The problem is that both have plenty of side effects and their effectiveness is almost entirely anecdotal.
For example, according to a 2010 study at the Department of Pediatrics, a 2.5-mL dose of honey before sleep has a more alleviating effect on viral upper respiratory tract infection-induced cough compared to dextromethorphan doses.
Images credit – Shutterstock
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References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918034/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652430/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498776/