Couldn't find what you looking for?


What is Dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan is a non-opioid drug that will frequently be found in a lot of over the counter cough medication. It actually works by acting on a part of the brain and suppressing the cough from appearing. Thus, it is called as a cough suppressant.

This drug was first developed by pharmaceutical companies as a means to develop an effective cough suppressant alternative to codeine, which can be addictive and thus abused. As it turned out, Dextromethorphan was also abused frequently by teenagers with some studies reporting it to be more commonly abused than ecstasy, crystal meth, LSD and even cocaine.    

When should Dextromethorphan be used?

The use of Dextromethorphan to treat a cough originating from the flu, throat irritation, common cold, and minor bronchial irritation has been successful. It cannot, however, treat a cough which is originating from cigarette smoking or the inhalation of other substances, asthma, and emphysema.

Contraindications for the use of Dextromethorphan

This drug should be not be taken by people who are suffering from liver damage or are in the midst of a serious liver disease, people who are on medication for the treatment of depression, children under the age of six years should not be given this drug as well as people who are on drugs called as monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO).

Allergic reactions with Dextromethorphan

There is another reason why people with asthma or chronic bronchitis or emphysema are not given dextromethorphan apart from the fact that a cough suppressant is ineffective in their treatment. One of the side effects of taking Dextromethorphan is that it may trigger the release of histamine in the body and simulate reactions that are seen during allergic reactions.

Histamine is the chemical agent that is released in the body during allergic reactions.

In case, patients find themselves suffering from severe allergic reactions like a difficulty in breathing, swelling up of the tongue, vomiting, fainting, or sudden changes in blood pressure then they need to get themselves to an emergency ward as soon as possible.

There are case reports of serious allergic reactions from dextromethorphan even though it is sold freely as an over the counter substance.

Side effects of Dextromethorphan

Some of the less serious and more expected side effects of dextromethorphan include feeling drowsy, diarrhea or constipation, a feeling of restlessness, nervousness and maybe even little nausea.

A lot of these side effects have been found to dose related. Since this drug is a common constituent of cough medication, care should be taken to read the labels and ensure that you are not taking in more than one medication containing dextromethorphan.


The use of cough medication or any medication for that matter, particularly in children, should be done after consultation with your doctor. That being said, allergic reactions can occur to almost anything and it is difficult to isolate yourself from everything out there.

With respect to dextromethorphan, this is a drug that works effectively for the large majority of people but should be avoided with those people that are suffering from serious allergies as well as the other contraindications listed above. 

Still have something to ask?

Get help from other members!

Post Your Question On The Forums