What Is Dextromethorphan?

If you have a cold or the flu, you may benefit from dextromethorphan. But what is dextromethorphan and how does it work?
 
Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient found in many cough, cold, and flu medications. It is available in several over-the-counter (OTC) and some prescription forms, including a syrup, lozenges, tablets, and capsules. It works to reduce the body's reflex to cough by affecting the "cough center" of the brainstem, the lower part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord.
 
Dextromethorphan has other actions in the brain, which may help to treat certain neurological conditions. For example, dextromethorphan can be used in combination with quinidine to treat a nervous system condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA). This condition causes uncontrollable outbursts of laughing or crying.
 
(Click Dextromethorphan for more details on what dextromethorphan is and how it works. This full-length article also discusses potential side effects, general dosing guidelines, possible safety concerns, and more.)
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