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: 26.01.2023 | 2 min read

Pholcodine 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 such as Pholcodine Linctus, Covonia Dry Cough Sugar Free Formula, Day Nurse, and many others.

Occasionally a cough can be a symptom of a more serious problem. You should speak to your doctor if you have had a cough for more than three weeks, have severe symptoms such as fever, coughing up blood, have lost weight unexpectedly, or have chest pain or shortness of breath.

How does it work?

Pholcodine is a cough suppressant (known in medical terms as an antitussive). It may stop you from coughing by suppressing brain activity responsible for the normal cough reflex.

How much should I take?

Pholcodine is suitable for adults and children aged 6 years and older. The amount of pholcodine you are allowed depends on your age. Adults and children aged twelve and over can take 5 - 10 mg (milligram) of pholcodine up to 4 times a day. Children aged six to eleven can take 2 - 5 mg (milligram) of pholcodine up to 4 times a day. The dosing instructions and age restrictions can vary between different pholcodine products, so make sure you follow the specific guidance for the product you have purchased.

Who should not take the medication?

Do not take pholcodine if you are allergic to pholcodine or another ingredient listed in the medication. Children under 6 should not take pholcodine. If you avoid ingesting alcohol in any form, please note that some pholcodine products do contain small amounts of alcohol in their production.

Speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking pholcodine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have liver or kidney problems, diabetes, respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD as the medication may not be suitable for you.

Pholcodine can interact with other medications such as certain antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, medications for high blood pressure, and medications that can cause drowsiness. If you take any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check they are safe to take alongside pholcodine.

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 pholcodine makes you feel drowsy, you should avoid driving or working. Also, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking pholcodine, as it can worsen your side effects. You should speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about any 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.