GENERIC NAME: DECONGESTANT/NARCOTIC ANTITUSSIVE - ORAL
BRAND NAME(S): Alahist DHC, Symtan
WARNING: Products that contain codeine or dihydrocodeine should not be used in children after certain surgeries (including tonsil/adenoid removal). Also, for children younger than 12 years, do not use codeine or dihydrocodeine to treat cough or pain unless specifically directed by the doctor. Some children are more sensitive to codeine or dihydrocodeine and have had very serious (rarely fatal) breathing problems such as slow/shallow breathing (see also Side Effects section). Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and benefits of this medication.
USES: See also Warning section.This combination medication is used to temporarily treat cough and congestion caused by the common cold, flu, and other breathing illnesses (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis). Decongestants help relieve stuffy nose and ear congestion symptoms. This product also contains a narcotic cough suppressant (antitussive) that affects a certain part of the brain, reducing the urge to cough.This medication is not usually used for ongoing coughs from smoking, asthma, other long-term breathing problems (e.g., emphysema), or coughs with a lot of mucus unless directed by your doctor.Cough-and-cold products have not been shown to be safe or effective in children younger than 6 years. Therefore, this product is not recommended to treat cold symptoms in children younger than 6 years. Some products (including some long-acting tablets/capsules) are not recommended for use in children younger than 12 years. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details about using your product safely.These products do not cure or shorten the length of the common cold and may cause serious side effects. To decrease the risk for serious side effects, carefully follow all dosage directions. Giving more than the recommended dose or using this medication along with other cough-and-cold products has resulted in serious (even fatal) side effects, including slowed/stopped breathing. Talk to the doctor or pharmacist before giving other cough-and-cold medication that might contain the same or similar ingredients (see also Drug Interactions section). Ask about other ways to relieve cough and cold symptoms (such as drinking enough fluids, using a humidifier or saline nose drops/spray). Do not use this product to make a child sleepy.
HOW TO USE: Take this medication by mouth with or without food or as directed by your doctor. This medication may be taken with food or milk if stomach upset occurs. Drink plenty of fluids when you use this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor. The fluid will help loosen the mucus in your lungs.If you are using the liquid form, use a medication-measuring device or spoon to carefully measure the prescribed dose. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. If your liquid form is a suspension, shake the bottle well before each dose.Dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to treatment.This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time (more than a few weeks) in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as restlessness, sweating, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions immediately.Rarely, abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction) is possible with this medication. Do not increase your dose, take it more frequently, or use it for a longer time than prescribed. Properly stop the medication when so directed.When used for an extended time, this medication may not work as well and may require different dosing. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.Tell your doctor if your condition persists for more than 1 week, if it worsens, or if it occurs with fever, rash, or persistent headache. These may be symptoms of a serious medical problem and should be checked by a doctor.
SIDE EFFECTS: Dizziness, drowsiness, headache, upset stomach, nausea, constipation, nervousness, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.To reduce dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.To prevent constipation, maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty of water, and exercise. If you become constipated while using this drug, consult your pharmacist for help in selecting a laxative (e.g., stimulant-type with stool softener).Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (e.g., hallucinations), shaking (tremors), trouble urinating, weakness, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat.Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: seizures.This product may cause serious mental/mood changes and very serious (rarely fatal) breathing problems. This product may contain codeine or dihydrocodeine. Codeine and dihydrocodeine are changed into strong narcotic drugs (morphine or dihydromorphine) in your body. In some people this happens faster and more completely than usual, which increases the risk of very serious side effects. Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following: slow/shallow breathing, unusual drowsiness/difficulty waking up, confusion.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to any of its ingredients; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: abdominal problems (e.g., chronic constipation, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis), adrenal gland problems (e.g., Addison's disease), blood vessel problems (e.g., Raynaud's disease, low blood flow to the brain/legs/hands), brain disorders (e.g., head injury, tumor, increased pressure in the brain), breathing problems (e.g., asthma, emphysema, sleep apnea), diabetes, glaucoma, heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney problems, liver disease, mental/mood problems (e.g., depression, psychosis), a certain spinal problem (kyphoscoliosis), recent surgery, thyroid problems, trouble urinating (e.g., due to enlarged prostate), use/abuse of drugs/alcohol.This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit the use of alcohol and certain other medications that cause drowsiness. (See also Drug Interactions.)Some brands may contain sugar, alcohol, or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence, liver disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/avoid these substances in your diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.Some children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially nervousness, extreme sleepiness, confusion, or slow/shallow/noisy breathing. (See also Warning section.)Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, slow/shallow breathing, fast/irregular heartbeat, problems urinating, or trouble sleeping.Before using this medication, women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor(s) about the risks and benefits. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may slightly increase the risk of birth defects if used during the first two months of pregnancy. Also, using it for a long time or in high doses near the expected delivery date may harm the unborn baby. To lessen the risk, take the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Tell the doctor right away if you notice any symptoms in your newborn baby such as slow/shallow breathing, irritability, abnormal/persistent crying, vomiting, or diarrhea.This product may pass into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding. Products that contain codeine or dihydrocodeine may rarely have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Tell the doctor right away if your infant develops increased sleepiness, trouble breast-feeding, trouble breathing, or unusual limpness. If your product contains codeine or dihydrocodeine, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.Some products that may interact with this drug include: drugs for high blood pressure (e.g., methyldopa, reserpine, beta blockers such as metoprolol and atenolol), cimetidine, narcotic antagonists (e.g., naltrexone, naloxone).Taking MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication.The risk of serious side effects (such as slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/dizziness) may be increased if this medication is taken with other products that may also affect breathing or cause drowsiness. Therefore, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products such as alcohol, medicine for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, and narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine).Check the labels on all your medicines (e.g., cough-and-cold products, diet aids) because they may contain the same or similar ingredients that could increase your heart rate or blood pressure or cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including amylase/lipase levels), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: confusion, cold/clammy skin, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, slow/shallow breathing, seizures.
MISSED DOSE: If your doctor directs you to take this medication on a regular schedule and you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not freeze liquid forms of this medication. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised February 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
Related Disease Conditions
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms include headache, fever, and facial tenderness, pressure, or pain. Treatments of sinus infections are generally with antibiotics and at times, home remedies.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
How Do You Decongest a Baby?
Nose and chest congestion are a common occurrence in babies. You can decongest your baby with rest, positioning, hydration, a warm bath, and other home remedies. Most cases of nasal congestion are harmless, but in a few cases where the chest is congested and the baby is not taking feeds, is dull, or has a high fever, it is prudent to seek medical consultation.
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, eye and nose itching, and tearing eyes. Avoidance of known allergens is the recommended treatment, but if this is not possible, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays may help alleviate symptoms.
Fever and Headache
Illnesses, diseases, conditions, and infections like cancer, RA, bacterial and fungal infections, encephalitis, meningitis, flu, and colds can cause a headache and fever. Associated symptoms and signs include rash, nausea and vomiting, cough, sweating, neck stiffness, seizure, decreased appetite, and joint pain and swelling. Treatment depends upon the cause but may include antibiotics, antifungal or antiviral drugs, pain-control drugs, decongestants, and cough suppressants.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
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.