› Available in drugstores either by itself or in combination with other medications to treat cold and allergy symptoms.
› Available as a liquid and a tablet.
› Some products relieve cough for up to 12 hours.
› Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
› Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
› Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
› It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
› Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
Downsides and risks
› Can't take dextromethorphan if you're taking MAO inhibitors (drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, depression, and other emotional conditions). If taken together, they will cause dangerously high blood pressure levels.
› If you're taking this in combination with other cold and allergy medications, you should read labels closely to make sure you're not accidentally taking too much of a single ingredient.
› Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
› You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
› Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
› Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
› Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
› Cough suppressant starts working in 15 to 30 minutes.
› Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take. Don't take more than the recommended dose.
› If your cough lasts more than 7 days, call your doctor.
› Starts working in 30 minutes.
› Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
› It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
› Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
› Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.