Available in both prescription and nonprescription forms, dextromethorphan is a medicine commonly found in various cold and flu medications. It is available both alone and in combination with other active ingredients. It comes as dextromethorphan hydrobromide (HBr), or as a long-acting formulation called dextromethorphan polistirex.
Dextromethorphan has several effects in the body, including cough suppression and certain neurological effects. As a result, this medication can help treat a minor cough caused by a cold or flu. It can also be helpful for treating a neurological condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which is associated with sudden, uncontrollable outbursts of laughing or crying.
Although most people tolerate this medication well, it is not suitable for everyone. For instance, you may not be able to safely take dextromethorphan if you have asthma, diabetes, or a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
(For more details on dextromethorphan polistirex and dextromethorphan HBr, click Dextromethorphan. This full-length article provides a complete overview of this medication, including how it works, dosing guidelines, and safety precautions to be aware of before starting treatment.)