Please select the country or location you would like to see content from.
country picker icon
treatment icon



Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 24.02.2023 | 2 min read

Dextromethorphan is a cough medication used to relieve dry and tickly coughs. You can buy it from your pharmacy either on its own or in combination with other medications for colds and flu. There are various products available. Examples include Robitussin DM, Nyquil, and many others.

Who is it for?

Dextromethorphan is suitable for adults and children aged 12 and above. However, the age restrictions and dosing instructions can vary between different dextromethorphan products, so make sure you follow the specific guidance for the product you have purchased.

How does it work?

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant (antitussive). It may stop you from coughing by suppressing brain activity responsible for the normal cough reflex. However, its benefit in studies has not clearly been shown.

Should anyone avoid taking it?

Do not take dextromethorphan if you are allergic to the medication, or another ingredient listed in the product. Children under 12 should not take dextromethorphan. If you avoid ingesting alcohol in any form, please note that some dextromethorphan products do contain small amounts of alcohol used in their production.

Speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking dextromethorphan if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have liver or kidney problems, diabetes, or have respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD, as the medication may not be suitable for you. If you take any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check if they are safe to take alongside dextromethorphan.

Are there any side effects?

As with all medications, some people may experience side effects. These can include nausea and vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. If dextromethorphan makes you feel drowsy, you should avoid driving or working. Also, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking the medication, as it can worsen your side effects.

Dextromethorphan can cause dependence if you take it for too long. If you are dependent on dextromethorphan, you will feel unwell when you go without the medication – you should speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about this or any specific side effects.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

Newsletter icon
Subscribe to our Newsletter
to get monthly notified about our latest health and wellness topics.
By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the Healthwords Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of the newsletter subscription at any time.