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Cough Syrup with Codeine

Cough Syrup with Codeine

Cough syrup with codeine is a commonly used over-the-counter medicine. Continue reading to know when to use it, when not to use it, and when exactly it is prescribed.
Girija Shinde
A cough syrup that contains codeine, is a liquid medication that is prescribed in cases of cough supplemented by mild to moderate chest pain. Codeine is an active ingredient that helps relieve pain, although it does not treat the actual cause of the disease, but merely the symptoms. However, its concentration in the syrup is very low, and normally does not lead to very serious side effects. Yet, this medicine has a high chance of being abused. Given below are details regarding the various effects and side effects of its usage.

Effects of Codeine
Codeine belongs to a class of medicines known as opiates, which are narcotic analgesics. They also have the effect of being antitussives. Codeine prevents a person from sensing pain, by altering the pain perception pathways in the body. When taken orally, it is absorbed into the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and stays in your system for a couple of days. It is converted into morphine when it reaches the brain. This then suppresses the cough center in the brain, eventually leading to a decrease in the condition. Thus, doctors normally prescribe codeine-containing cough syrups only when a person has non-productive cough. If the person has productive cough, it helps to expel harmful, accumulated mucus in the body. Thus, this condition requires a different kind of medication.

Side Effects of Codeine
  • Possible side effects include itchiness.
  • It could also lead to constipation. It could also lead to nausea and vomiting.
  • Blurred or double vision is a possibility.
  • There may be slight sweating and flushing.
  • Codeine cough syrup increases drowsiness, and may even lead to unusual dreams, euphoria, etc. It may also occasionally lead to confusion, hallucinations, and delusions.
  • It suppresses the respiratory system, which may occur to such an extent, that it could result in respiratory arrest.
When Not to Use Codeine Syrup
  • If you are allergic to any ingredient in the syrup, or if you have had an allergic reaction on taking a similar or related medicine in the past, it is best to avoid the cough syrup that contains codeine.
  • If you have severe drowsiness
  • Where such a medication is contraindicated, like if a person has certain breathing problems, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, sleep apnea, etc.
  • Along with cough, if a person shows systemic symptoms, like fever or productive cough
  • If a person is suffering from diarrhea due to food poisoning or use of antibiotics
  • Codeine can pass through breast milk, from where it could reach a newborn. Thus, it is strictly contraindicated in pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • There may be certain drug interactions which could lead to untoward complications. So, if a person has been taking sodium oxybate, barbiturates (increases risk of breathing problems), haloperidol (increases the risk of arrhythmia), local anesthetics (increases risk of seizures), etc., anticholinergics increase the chances of side effects. Certain drugs may decrease the effectiveness of the syrup, like rifampin, quinidine, naltrexone, etc. Furthermore, certain drugs, like levodopa or pergolide may not be as effective if taken with cough syrup.
The most important thing that one needs to consider is that if you have persistent cough, you should preferably visit the doctor and get the condition diagnosed and treated, rather than going in for over-the-counter codeine cough syrup.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of medical experts.