How Effective is Dextromethorphan & What are Its Side Effects?

You should not use Dextromethorphan after using an MAO inhibitor like selegiline (Emsam or Edepryl), isocarboxazid, rasagiline (Azilect),tranylcypromine (Parnate) or phenelzine (Nardi) within the past one week. Serious and deadly side effects can be witnessed if you take dextromethorphan before MAO inhibitors are cleared from the body.

How Effective is Dextromethorphan?

How Effective is Dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan is used for treating cough and is a cough suppressant. Dextromethorphan discourages brain signals that triggers cough reflex thus making this drug more effective in cough treatment. However, dextromethorphan cannot treat coughs caused by asthma, emphysema or smoking.

Dextromethorphan cannot be given to children of below 4 years. Always seek medical advice before giving your child cold or cough medicine. This is because misuse of cough or cold medicine in young children can be fatal.

Do not take other over the counter drugs for allergy or cough treatment without informing your doctor. This is because you may end up taking excess amount of one type or different drugs. Always read the label of the other drug you are taking to see if it contains dextromethorphan. Before taking dextromethorphan:

  • You should ask the pharmacist or your doctor on how to use dextromethorphan if you are suffering from chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
  • Dextromethorphan drugs can harm unborn baby as well as pass into breast milk and harm a sucking child. It therefore advisable to inform you doctor if you are pregnant or nursing your baby during dextromethorphan treatment.
  • The sweetened type of liquid cough medicine may be containing phenylalanine. This is important to check if you have Phenylketonuria (PKU). Always look at the warning and ingredients labels if you are keen with phenylalanine.

How to Take Dextromethorphan?

Make sure that you use dextromethorphan as prescribed or directed by your doctor. Do not take large amounts of dextromethorphan or take it for longer periods than it is recommended. Cough medicine is usually prescribed for short periods until the infection is cleared out.

  • Do not give dextromethorphan to children below 4 years. Always ask your consult your doctor before giving your child cold and cough medicine. This is because misuse of cold and coughing medicines can cause death to little children.
  • Make sure that you use the special measuring spoon for liquid dextromethorphan and not the normal table spoons. Request the pharmacist to provide you with the dose measuring device if you do not have one.
  • Always allow the dextromethorphan disintegrating strip or lozenges to completely dissolve in your mouth.
  • It is advised that you drink more fluids to assist in lubricating and loosen the congestion in your throat while taking dextromethorphan. Contact your physician if you do not see any improvement after seven days or you get fever with a cough, skin rash or headache.
  • If you are scheduled for surgery, make sure that you inform your surgeon that you are taking cough medicine or have been taking in the past few weeks.
  • Always store dextromethorphan away from moisture, heat and light and at room temperature. And also keep it away from children.

What are the Side Effects of Dextromethorphan?

There are mild to serious side effects of Dextromethorphan. Seek immediate medical help in case you have symptoms such as breathing difficulties, hives, swelling of your face, throat, lips and tongue. Stop using dextromethorphan if you have these signs and immediately contact your doctor.

  • Severe fatigue, dizziness, restless feeling and anxiety or nervousness;
  • Hallucination and confusion,
  • Slow and fast heart beat or breathing rate.
  • Less serious side effects like stomach upsets are likely to occur if you take dextromethorphan.

What Other Drugs that Interact with and Affects Dextromethorphan?

Inform your doctor if you are using or have recently used the following medicines that can interact and affect Dextromethorphan:

  • Celecoxib (Celebrex);
  • Cinacalcet (Sensipar);
  • Darifenacin (Enablex);
  • Imatinib (Gleevec);
  • Quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex);
  • Ranolazine (Ranexa)
  • Ritonavir (Norvir);
  • Sibutramine (Meridia);
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil);
  • Medicines used in treating high blood pressure; or
  • Antidepressant medications like amitriptyline (Elavil, Etrafon), imipramine (Tofrani, Janimine), bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), sertraline (Zoloft), luoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine(Luvox).
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2017

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