Dextromethorphan Mechanism of Action

Available in prescription and nonprescription medications, dextromethorphan is used to treat minor coughing caused by a cold, flu, or certain other conditions. It is also found in a combination medication, Nuedexta™ (dextromethorphan and quinidine), to treat sudden outbursts of laughing or crying associated with pseudobulbar affect (PBA). Many people wonder about the actions of dextromethorphan in the body, specifically how it works to treat these conditions.
 
When treating a cough, dextromethorphan works to reduce the body's reflex to cough through its actions in the "cough center" of the brainstem, the lower part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord.
 
Dextromethorphan also has other actions in the brain, which may help it work to treat PBA. It works by blocking certain receptors, which prevent the action of excitatory brain chemicals.
 
(To learn more about the mechanism of action for this drug, click Dextromethorphan. This article offers a complete overview of this drug, including how it works, potential side effects, general safety precautions to be aware of, and tips for taking it.)
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