Coughs are one of the top reasons most people see their health care provider. But did you know most coughs (caused by environmental factors or common colds) do not require immediate evaluation by a health specialist? There are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you can pick up at your local medical store without a prescription. When dealing with a cough caused by a common cold or flu, dextromethorphan provides much-needed relief. While Dextromethorphan or DXM is safe for stopping coughs caused by the flu, common cold or other conditions, educating yourself on this OTC medicine is always recommended to ensure it is used effectively and safely. With this in mind, here are a few of the top questions you should ask your prescriber or pharmacist before taking this medicine.
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Dextromethorphan
As mentioned, Dextromethorphan is the most common over-the-counter (OTC) drug widely used for the treatment of cough. To help you gain a better understanding of how this cough medicine works, here are answers to a few common questions about Dextromethorphan.
1. What Is Dextromethorphan Exactly?
DXM, short for Dextromethorphan, is a commonly used cough medicine that suppresses the signals in the part of your brain that triggers the coughing reflex. This widely used cough suppressant is available OTC alone and is also present in several OTC and prescription combination drugs. Dextromethorphan can be purchased as a tablet, syrup, lozenges, or spray. It is important to note that DXM does not provide relief from coughs caused by smoking, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma.
2. What Are The Uses Of Dextromethorphan?
As mentioned, Dextromethorphan or DXM is used for treating coughs due to common colds or flu. As you already know, the OTC drug should not be used for chronic coughing that occurs with smoking or any other breathing problems such as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis unless it is prescribed by your healthcare provider.
3. How To Take Dextromethorphan (DXM)?
You should use Dextromethorphan or any other cold and cough medicine exactly as directed on the package or as it has been prescribed by your pharmacist or doctor. You should strictly avoid using Dextromethorphan or any other medicine in larger amounts, or taking it for longer than recommended by the prescriber or pharmacist. Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are usually taken for a short period until the symptoms clear up.
- As mentioned, Dextromethorphan can be taken in the form of a chewable tablet, liquid, or liquid-filled capsule. It is also available in combination with cough suppressants, antihistamines, and decongestants. So, it is important to ask the pharmacist or prescriber which product is best for your symptoms.
- When using dextromethorphan in liquid form, be sure to use the cup or spoon that comes with the medicine to measure the dose.
- If you are using the extended-release suspension of Dextromethorphan, make sure you properly shake the bottle before each dose.
- If you are using the chewable form of Dextromethorphan, allow the tablet to melt on the tongue or chew it thoroughly before swallowing.
- Children younger than 4 years old should not be given Dextromethorphan or any other kind of cold or cough products.
- If you are expecting a child or breastfeeding, inform your pharmacist or doctor before using this medicine.
- Stop using the medicine and contact your pharmacist or prescriber if the symptoms do not improve even after seven days.
4. What Are The Possible Side-Effects Of Dextromethorphan (DXM)?
Some of the most common side effects associated with the use of Dextromethorphan (DXM) include the following:
- Stomach pain
- Abnormal heartbeat
If you notice any of these aforementioned Dextromethorphan side effects, contact your pharmacist or health care provider immediately for further assistance. The majority of the individuals who take Dextromethorphan do not experience any serious side effects. Moreover, the above list does not contain all possible side effects of DXM. Check with your prescriber for additional information about the other side effects associated with the use of this cough medicine.
5. Does This Medicine Contain Alcohol?
While alcohol may be present in many cough medicines, Dextromethorphan does not contain alcohol.
6. Is It OK To Drink Alcohol While Taking Dextromethorphan (DXM)?
The short answer to this question is no. The long answer is also the same! Dextromethorphan may interact with alcohol. It is therefore advised to avoid the consumption of alcohol with this medicine as it may increase the risk of serious effects such as dizziness, drowsiness or poor concentration.
7. Is Dextromethorphan (DXM) Safe?
The answer to this question is yes! At recommended doses, Dextromethorphan products are safe and work well. This medicine holds an established safety record. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines containing DXM produce no serious side effects when used as directed. These medicines are used safely by a large percentage of people all over the world to relieve coughs caused by a common cold or flu.
8. Is Dextromethorphan Addictive?
Absolutely! While Dextromethorphan products are generally safe when taken at the recommended doses, regular abuse can lead to the development of addiction. It is important to note that most OTC medications that can be easily abused lead to serious health problems including the possibility of overdose and death, and Dextromethorphan abuse is no different.
9. Does Dextromethorphan (DXM) Cause Sleepiness?
Yes, DXM can make you sleepy. But it is not a side effect of this medicine. Tiredness is usually a good sign that your body is fighting an infection.
10. How Long Does It Take For Dextromethorphan To Start Working?
This is one of the interesting questions commonly asked about this medicine! Dextromethorphan (DXM) starts to show results about 20 to 30 minutes after it is taken and continues working for eight to twelve hours. It is advisable to take the medicine for the duration suggested by the prescribed.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an extremely safe cough medicine when used as recommended. The medicine can be very dangerous when taken in larger amounts. If you have any other questions about Dextromethorphan, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist or health care provider.