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Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient found in many cold and flu medications. This drug has several effects in the body, including cough suppression and certain neurological effects. It is available in many forms, including an oral liquid, tablets, lozenges, and a strip that dissolves on the tongue. Possible side effects may include drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness.

What Is Dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan is a cough medication found in many different nonprescription medicines, as well as in some prescription medications. It is commonly used to relieve a cough caused by a cold, the flu, or other conditions.
 
Dextromethorphan comes in many forms, including:
 
  • An oral liquid or syrup
  • Lozenges
  • Tablets
  • Gelcaps
  • Capsules
  • A strip that dissolves on the tongue.
 
Dextromethorphan is often combined with other medicines in cough and cold products. It is also an active ingredient in Nuedexta™ (dextromethorphan and quinidine), a combination prescription medication used to treat uncontrolled, sudden episodes of crying or laughing in people who have a condition known as pseudobulbar affect (PBA).
 
(Click What is Dextromethorphan Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any medicine, dextromethorphan can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well.
 
If reactions do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
 
The specific dextromethorphan side effects will depend on the particular product used. Commonly reported problems include but are not limited to:
 
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Indigestion or heartburn.
 
(Click Dextromethorphan Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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