- Finding Relief for Your Cough Slideshow
- Take the Cold & Flu Quiz
- Cold & Flu Slideshow: Treating Your Child's Cold or Fever
Cough Medicine and Cough Syrups Introduction
Three types of cough medicines are available OTC for the temporary relief of cough caused by a cold or bronchitis. These cough medicines include cough suppressants, oral expectorants, and topical (externally applied) drugs.
Who Should Not Take Cough Medicine or Cough Syrup?
Often, doctors believe that a cough from a cold should not be treated unless it is keeping you up at night or interfering with your activities. Coughing up mucus may help keep your lungs clear. This is especially true if you smoke or have asthma or emphysema.
Dextromethorphan can interact with many medicines including antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil (paroxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), or Zoloft (sertraline); serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine (Effexor) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). Do not take dextromethorphan if you are on other medication unless cleared by your doctor. In addition, some combination cold and cough medicines contain decongestants. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, avoid taking these drugs. Decongestants can raise blood pressure.
Quick GuideTips to Calm Your Cough in Pictures
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.