Dextromethorphan Solution

Dextromethorphan solution is a cough suppressant. It helps relieve your cough by calming your cough reflex. Robitussin® is a common brand name. Follow the dosing instructions closely and always use a specially marked spoon or container to measure each dose. Household spoons won’t give you an accurate measurement.


What is this medication?

DEXTROMETHORPHAN (dex troe meth OR fan) is used to relieve cough. It works by calming your cough reflex. It belongs to a group of medications called cough suppressants.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Cough Suppressant, ElixSure Cough, ElixSure Cough DM, Giltuss DM, PediaCare Children's Long Acting Cough, PediaCare Long-Acting Cough, Robitussin, Robitussin Children's Cough, Robitussin Cough, Robitussin Lingering Cold Long-Acting Cough, Robitussin Pediatric Cough, Scot-Tussin CF, Silphen DM, Triaminic Long Acting Cough, Tylenol Children's Simply Cough, Vicks DayQuil Cough, Vicks DayQuil Nature Fusion, Vicks Formula 44, Vicks Nature Fusion Cough, Zicam Concentrated Cough, Zicam Cough Max, Zicam Cough Nite


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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Asthma.
  • Emphysema.
  • Large amount of mucus.
  • Liver disease.
  • Smoker.
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to dextromethorphan, other medications, bromides, foods, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
  • Breast-feeding.

How should I use this medication?

Take this medication by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Use a specially marked spoon or container to measure each dose. Ask your pharmacist if you do not have one. Household spoons are not accurate. Take your medication at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed.

Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While this medication may be prescribed for children as young as 2 years old for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.


What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

Do not take this medication with any of the following:

  • MAOIs like Carbex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate.

This medication may also interact with the following medications:

  • Medications for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances.
  • Other medications for allergies or cold.
  • Procarbazine.

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.


What should I watch for while using this medication?

Do not treat yourself for a cough for more than 1 week without consulting your care team. If you have a high fever, skin rash, lasting headache, or sore throat, see your care team.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medication affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol may interfere with the effect of this medication. Avoid alcoholic drinks.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Fatigue.

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F) unless otherwise directed. Protect from light. Do not freeze. Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date.

Note: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Additional Common Questions

Is dextromethorphan safe?

Dextromethorphan is generally safe when you take the proper dose to treat a cough. However, it can interact with other medications, including some that treat depression and anxiety. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking dextromethorphan. They’ll make sure the medication is safe for you based on your medical history and any other medications you’re currently taking.

It’s important to follow the dosing instructions on the product label. Taking too much (overdose) can lead to serious or even life-threatening drug reactions, including serotonin syndrome.

Using dextromethorphan as a recreational drug is dangerous and can be deadly. Dextromethorphan, like all medications, is toxic in very high amounts. It can also affect how you see and interact with the world around you. Dextromethorphan misuse (“Robo-tripping,” “robodosing” or “dexing”) has occurred among people of various ages, including teens. Some people take dextromethorphan along with other substances, including alcohol, which is also highly dangerous.

Talking to your teen about the risks of substance misuse can help them avoid behaviors and situations that could be harmful. If you think your child may be using dextromethorphan or other substances recreationally, talk to a healthcare provider immediately. They’ll make sure your child gets the help they need.

Can you take Robitussin while pregnant?

There’s not enough research to say for sure that dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in Robitussin) is safe during pregnancy. But researchers haven’t proven it’s harmful to the developing fetus either. Keep in mind that many Robitussin products contain other ingredients besides dextromethorphan. Not all of these ingredients may be safe during pregnancy.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medications or supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding (chestfeeding). They’ll advise you on what to do.

Can I take Robitussin and pain reliever?

It depends on the active ingredients in the Robitussin product. If the product already contains a pain reliever, like acetaminophen (Tylenol®), then taking an additional pain reliever on top of that can lead to acetaminophen overdose. Many cough and cold medications contain multiple ingredients to treat multiple symptoms. So, combining two over-the-counter medications can quickly give you unsafe doses of a certain single ingredient.

Read product labels carefully so you know exactly what’s in each medication. And talk to a healthcare provider before you take your first dose of anything (even just one medication). They’ll make sure the medication is safe for you and also tell you if you can take pain relievers or any other over-the-counter products at the same time.

Does Robitussin have alcohol in it?

It depends on the specific product you buy. There are a variety of combination products with Robitussin and other ingredients in them. So, it’s important to:

  • Read labels. Always check the label, including the list of inactive ingredients. Some liquid formulations may contain small amounts of alcohol. Products containing no alcohol will say “alcohol-free” on the label.
  • Talk with a pharmacist. If the cough and cold medications aisle is overwhelming you, take a minute to talk to a pharmacist. They can answer your questions about ingredients and help you pick the product that’s best for your needs.

Does Robitussin make you sleepy?

It can, depending on the product(s) you’re taking. Drowsiness is a possible side effect of dextromethorphan (an active ingredient in some Robitussin products). The label will tell you if the product may cause drowsiness.

Talk to your provider or a pharmacist if you’re looking for a non-drowsy cough or cold medicine. They’ll help you find options that won’t make you sleepy.

Note: Intro and FAQ sections written and reviewed by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It’s not always easy to figure out which over-the-counter medicine is right for you. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own (and you shouldn’t). Before you pick up a product containing dextromethorphan, talk to a healthcare provider. They’ll either give you the green light or suggest alternatives that are better for your needs. And once you start taking your medicine, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions on dosing or side effects.

Note: Intro and FAQ sections written and reviewed by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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