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What Is Promethazine Cough Syrup?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Promethazine cough syrup is typically prescribed to treat a variety of respiratory ailments. This medication may be used to treat allergic reactions, nausea, or vomiting, and it is typically combined with either a narcotic pain medication known as codeine or a cough suppressant known as dextromethorphan. Any questions or concerns about this cough syrup or the accompanying ingredients should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

This type of cough syrup is most commonly combined with codeine. It may be used to treat upper respiratory conditions such as cough, allergies, or the common cold. Promethazine is an antihistamine that works to treat allergic reactions such as sinus drainage or a runny nose, and it also reduces symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever that also works as a cough suppressant.

In some cases, promethazine cough syrup may contain a type of cough suppressant known as dextromethorphan. This medication may be prescribed to treat allergies or symptoms of the common cold. Dextromethorphan may also be used instead of codeine in young children or those who are sensitive or allergic to that pain reliever.

Some patients may not be able to take this cough syrup, especially those who have a history of allergic reactions to any of the ingredients. Codeine is not recommended for use by children who are younger than six years old due to potential complications such as seizures or breathing difficulties. Dextromethorphan is not recommended for children less than the age of two due to similar side effects.

Patients should always tell a healthcare professional about any other medications that are being taken, as promethazine may not be safe when combined with certain other medications. The professional will also need a complete medical history in order to decide if this is the best method of treatment in an individual situation. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this medication without medical approval.

It is important for patients to take promethazine cough syrup only as prescribed. This medication has the potential to become addictive if it is taken too often or at high doses. A patient should never share this medication with anyone, as it could be unsafe or even fatal. Anyone who feels like he may be developing an addiction to the cough syrup should consult a healthcare provider right away for assistance.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997504 — On Jan 17, 2017

When I take promethazine with codeine cough syrup, I take it as prescribed and I make sure I get everything bad out. For the past week, I've been up all night coughing, which is giving me headaches and keeping my kids awake and my spouse. The doctor I used to see knew me very well and he knew that I don't get sick, But when I do I don't play games. I have to get well ASAP. I personally think this is the best way too get rid of all the coughing and headaches (from coughing) and pain in my body. When I'm well again I make sure I get rid of the bottle, whether it's a little, or even some left in it. Sick isn't for me. I like to knock it out as soon as possible, and promethazine with codeine does the best. Hope everyone has a great and healthy winter.

By anon994814 — On Mar 08, 2016

I have a chronic bad cough night and day. I have tried everything and don't know what to do.

By seag47 — On Jan 15, 2012

@shell4life – All kinds of antihistamines make me dizzy and sleepy, so I didn't even have to take the codeine kind to suffer these effects. The dextromethorphan did it all on its own.

Oh, it kept me from coughing and having post-nasal drip. It did what it was supposed to do.

It also kept me from being able to sit up and listen at a meeting. I had to excuse myself and call a cab to go home. I was literally falling asleep standing up.

Different medications affect everyone differently. I think I was a bit of a rare case. Has dextromethorphan affected anyone else here in this way?

By shell4life — On Jan 14, 2012

@cloudel – Promethazine cough syrup with codeine is truly the best in both pain relief and cough suppression. However, you have to be really careful while taking it.

I have taken other medications that warned against driving while under their influence, but most medicines don't affect me in this way. I took the cough syrup and then got a call to come into work, so I figured I could make it. I was wrong.

I got about half a mile down the road when I realized that I was too dizzy to keep the car going in a straight line. The world seemed to be moving in front of me.

I had to call my boss and tell him I could not make it. He understood, because he knew I had been sick, anyway. I will never try to drive while on this medication again, because I was scared I wouldn't even be able to make it back to my driveway before collapsing!

By wavy58 — On Jan 14, 2012

I have had both the kind with codeine and the kind with dextromethorphan. Unless I am severely ill, I don't really need the codeine.

Usually, allergies are what get my cough started. They persist until they cause me to develop a sinus infection, and once that settles into my chest, I need cough syrup.

The antihistamine quality helps with the source of the problem, while the cough suppressant takes care of that bothersome hacking. I don't have to worry about becoming addicted to it, either.

My mother once became addicted to cough syrup with codeine, and she wound up having to get professional help. I avoid it because of this. If a doctor tries to give me codeine in a cough syrup, I request dextromethorphan instead.

By cloudel — On Jan 13, 2012

I have been prescribed promethazine codeine cough syrup before, and it is the only thing that eases my suffering. I had bronchitis once, and nothing else worked to stop the persistent cough.

I had gotten to the point where I could not breathe without coughing involuntarily. The cough syrup magically suppressed my cough, giving me sweet relief.

The codeine in it helped me sleep, which helped me recover faster. It gave my stomach muscles a chance to rest from all the contracting they had been doing every time I had a coughing fit.

I can see how it could become addictive, but I was just so happy once I started recovering that I didn't need it anymore. It definitely did make me feel good while I was on it, though.

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