What Is Dextromethorphan Used For?

If you have a cough, you may benefit from dextromethorphan. This medicine is a common ingredient found in many nonprescription and some prescription cough, cold, and flu medications. It can also be used for treating certain neurological diseases, including pseudobulbar affect and multiple sclerosis. Some research has also indicated that dextromethorphan may be useful for treating nerve pain or Parkinson's disease.

An Overview of Uses for Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a medication that is an active ingredient in many different nonprescription cough and cold products. It is also found in a few prescription cough syrups. Dextromethorphan belongs to a class of medications called "antitussives." It is commonly used to relieve minor coughing from a cold, flu, or other conditions.
Dextromethorphan is also one of the active medications in Nuedexta™ (dextromethorphan and quinidine), a combination prescription medicine used to treat pseudobulbar affect (PBA). PBA is a neurological condition associated with frequent, sudden, involuntary outbursts of crying or laughing.
Dextromethorphan products come in a variety of strengths and forms, including:
  • An oral liquid or syrup
  • Lozenges
  • Tablets
  • Gelcaps
  • Capsules
  • A strip that dissolves on the tongue.

Using Dextromethorphan for Coughing

Coughing is not an illness itself, but rather a sign that something else is happening in the body. It is a common symptom of many different medical problems. In fact, coughing is one of the most common reasons people visit a healthcare provider.
Coughs are generally considered acute or chronic, depending on how long they last. Acute coughs are short-term, lasting no longer than two or three weeks. Chronic coughs are coughs that do not go away after several weeks.
When you visit a healthcare provider for a cough, he or she will try to determine the underlying cause of the cough. Many different things can make people cough. The majority of acute coughs are due to a respiratory tract infection, such as the common cold or flu. A wider variety of problems may be responsible for chronic coughs, including but not limited to:
Dextromethorphan is used to temporary relieve coughing. It will suppress a cough, but it won't treat the underlying cause of the cough. Therefore, it's important to see your healthcare provider if your cough doesn't go away after a week. You may need different treatment. Dextromethorphan, by itself, will not help loosen mucus and phlegm. An expectorant, such as guaifenesin, is often more helpful for that type of cough.
Also, talk to your healthcare provider if your cough comes back, or is accompanied by fever, a rash, or a persistent headache. These could be signs of a more serious problem that needs additional treatment.
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Dextromethorphan Medication Information

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