Cough Suppressants

Cough Suppressants



Cough suppressants are medicines that prevent or stop coughing.


Cough suppressants act on the center in the brain that controls the cough reflex. They are meant to be used only to relieve dry, hacking coughs associated with colds and flu. They should not be used to treat coughs that bring up mucus or the chronic coughs associated with smoking, asthma, emphysema or other lung problems.
Many cough medicines contain cough suppressants along with other ingredients. Some combinations of ingredients may cancel each other's effects. One example is the combination of cough suppressant with an expectorant—a medicine that loosens and clears mucus from the airways. The cough suppressant interferes with the ability to cough up the mucus that the expectorant loosens.


The cough suppressant described here, dextromethorphan, is an ingredient in many cough medicines, such as Vicks Formula 44, Drixoral Cough Liquid Caps, Sucrets Cough Control, Benylin DM and some Robitussin products. These medicines come in capsule, tablet, lozenge, and liquid forms and are available without a physician's prescription.

Recommended dosage:

Regular (short-acting) capsules, lozenges, syrups, or tablets:
  • adults and children over 12: 10-30 mg every four to eight hours, as needed
  • children six to 12: 5-15 mg every four to eight hours, as needed
  • children two to six: 2.5-7.5 mg every four to eight hours, as needed (Children under six should not be given lozenges containing dextromethorphan because of the high dose of dextromethorphan in each lozenge.)
  • children under two: check with child's physician
For extended-release oral suspension:
  • adults and children over 12: 60 mg every 12 hours, as needed
  • children six to 12: 30 mg every 12 hours, as needed
  • children two to six: 15 mg every 12 hours, as needed
  • children under two: check with child's physician


Do not take more than the recommended daily dosage of dextromethorphan.
Dextromethorphan is not meant to be used for coughs associated with smoking, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or other lung conditions. It also should not be used for coughs that produce mucus.
A lingering cough could be a sign of a serious medical condition. Coughs that last more than seven days or are associated with fever, rash, sore throat, or lasting headache should have medical attention. Call a physician as soon as possible.
People with phenylketonuria should be aware that some products with dextromethorphan also contain the artificial sweetener aspartame, which breaks down in the body to phenylalanine.
Anyone who has asthma or liver disease should check with a physician before taking dextromethorphan.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or who plan to become pregnant should check with their physicians before taking dextromethorphan.
The dye tartrazine is an ingredient in some cough suppressant products. This dye causes allergic reactions in some people, especially those who are allergic to aspirin.

Side effects

Side effects are rare, but may include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, slight drowsiness, and dizziness.


Patients who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) should be aware that the co-administration of products containing dextromethorphan can cause dizziness, fainting, fever, nausea and possibly coma. Do not take dextromethorphan unless a physician permits the use of the two drugs together.
When dextromethorphan is taken with medicines that cause drowsiness, this effect may be enhanced.

Key terms

Asthma — A disease in which the air passages of the lungs become inflamed and narrowed.
Bronchitis — Inflammation of the air passages of the lungs.
Chronic — A word used to describe a long-lasting condition. Chronic conditions often develop gradually and involve slow changes.
Emphysema — An irreversible lung disease in which breathing becomes increasingly difficult.
Mucus — Thick fluid produced by the moist membranes that line many body cavities and structures.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) — A genetic disorder in which the body lacks an important enzyme. If untreated, the disorder can lead to brain damage and mental retardation.
References in periodicals archive ?
As long as your dog is eating well and acting like himself, he'll probably feel better in a week or so - but always speak to your vet and let him make sure that your dog doesn't need antibiotics or cough suppressants.
In particular, tell your doctor if you are taking any pain medicines such as narcotics, cold or allergy medicines that contain cough suppressants or antihistamines, medicines for mental illness (antipsychotics, anti-anxiety), drink alcohol, take medicines for depression including MAOIs or tricyclic antidepressants, take medicines for stomach or intestinal problems.
Cough suppressants are usually effective in relieving a troublesome cough.
27--Flood victims in the neighboring Al-Qabil and Jidr villages of Bani Al-Harith district of Sana'a say a local medical NGO distributed expired medicine to them, including antibiotics and cough suppressants.
TO SOOTHE A COUGH Panda All Natural Soft Liquorice Bar - 65p (from Holland & Barrett) LIQUORICE root is used in various herbal cough suppressants and throat lozenges because it has expectorant, antiseptic, antiviral, antioxidant, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Few drugs are effective as cough suppressants, and antibiotics are no more effective in relieving cough than the use of no medication.
Over-the-counter cough suppressants are considered weakly effective, when effective at all, and prescription medicines are fraught with side effects.
Avoid use with alcohol, other cold medications, cough suppressants, other decongestants or paracetamol-containing preparations, beta-blockers and other hypertensive drugs or tricyclic antidepressants.
In other words, taking Captagon pills is a form of amphetamine abuse and heavy use can lead to heart failure, especially mixed with high doses of caffeine, nicotine and especially ephedrine -- a compound found in many over-the-counter cough suppressants and diet pills.
Cough suppressants act on the brain to depress the cough reflex center.
Cooper Collins, President and CEO of Pernix, said: "This partnership is an exciting step forward in the growth of our company and provides an opportunity to increase our share of the approximately $3 billion global market for prescription and OTC cough suppressants while strengthening our existing portfolio of branded products for upper respiratory ailments in pediatrics.
Cough suppressants ad by depressing the cough center in the medulla.