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Robitussin dry cough medicine

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 4 minutes read

Robitussin is a well-known brand of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine that offers relief for various types of coughs. Robitussin stands out as a popular choice for individuals experiencing dry, non-productive coughs. This comprehensive guide aims to provide detailed information about Robitussin, including its active ingredients, mechanism of action, indications, dosage, potential side effects, and precautions.

Active ingredients and formulation

Robitussin typically contains dextromethorphan as its active ingredient. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that works by affecting the cough reflex in the brain, thereby reducing the urge to cough. In addition to dextromethorphan, Robitussin may also contain other ingredients such as preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners to enhance palatability and stability.

Doctor’s advice

Who is it for?

Robitussin is indicated for the relief of dry, irritating coughs that do not produce mucus or phlegm. It is commonly used to alleviate cough symptoms associated with various respiratory conditions, including the common cold, flu, allergies, and bronchitis. By suppressing the cough reflex, Robitussin helps reduce the frequency and severity of coughing, providing relief and allowing individuals to rest more comfortably.

How much should I take?

The dosage of Robitussin may vary depending on factors such as age, weight, and the severity of symptoms. It is essential to follow the dosing instructions provided on the product label or as directed by a healthcare professional. Generally, Robitussin is taken orally, with or without food in liquid form. It is important not to exceed the recommended dosage or frequency of administration to avoid potential adverse effects.

The active ingredient is dextromethorphan, and it is only suitable for adults and children aged 12 and above. Adults and children aged 12 and above can take 10 ml (2 teaspoonfuls) up to four times a day when required. Do not take the medication for longer than seven days.

Who should not take the medication?

Do not take Robitussin if you are allergic to dextromethorphan or another ingredient in it. The medication is not suitable for children under 12 years.

If you have reasons to avoid alcohol, be aware that Robitussin contains a small amount of alcohol.

You should speak with your doctor before taking the medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

You should also speak with your doctor before taking the medication if you have asthma, COPD, another respiratory problem, liver problems, current or past addiction to alcohol or drugs, or an intolerance to certain sugars.

Occasionally, a cough can be a symptom of a more severe condition. Do speak to your doctor if you have had a cough for more than three weeks, are coughing up blood, have lost weight unexpectedly, or have chest pain or shortness of breath.

Dextromethorphan can interact with other medications such as antidepressants, amiodarone, tramadol, and terbinafine. If you take any prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it is safe for you to take Robitussin.

Are there any side effects?

As with all medications, some people may experience side effects. If any side effects become bothersome, you should speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Potential side effects can include

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • stomach upset
  • confusion

It is best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking dextromethorphan, as it can increase the likelihood and severity of any side effects.

Sometimes dextromethorphan can cause addiction due to its euphoric effects (especially at high doses). It can also cause dependency, where you feel unwell if you don't take the medication. Withdrawal effects can include restlessness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety, feeling your heartbeat (palpitations), nausea & vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, shivering, and sweating. Addiction and dependency are more likely to occur if you take the medication for a long time – so do not take the medication for any longer than seven days in a row. If you think you are suffering from dextromethorphan addiction or dependency, you should speak with your doctor.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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