Compare Delsym vs. Phenylephrine

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Delsym
(Dextromethorphan)

Sudafed Pe
(Phenylephrine)

Relieves coughing. Delsym (Dextromethorphan) is a good option for treating dry cough. It's not safe to take with MAO inhibitors though.Clears your sinuses. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.487394957983193Delsym
Reviews for Delsym (Dextromethorphan)
64%
of people say Delsym (Dextromethorphan) is worth it
31%
say it works well
12%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
44%
20% vs. Delsym (Dextromethorphan)
23%
8% vs. Delsym (Dextromethorphan)
10%
+2% vs. Delsym (Dextromethorphan)
Side effects
DelsymPhenylephrine

We haven’t found good data for Delsym side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Delsym »

We haven’t found good data for Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »
How it works
DelsymPhenylephrine
Delsym (Dextromethorphan) is a cough suppressant.Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.
Type of medication
DelsymPhenylephrine
Cough suppressantOver-the-counter
DecongestantPrescription or OTC
Available as
DelsymPhenylephrine
  • Pill
  • Liquid extended release
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
Used for (click to learn more)
DelsymPhenylephrine
Risk factors for serious side effects
DelsymPhenylephrine
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
Detailed Delsym (Dextromethorphan) risks & warnings »
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
DelsymPhenylephrine
NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
Food
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
No specific sleep-related info.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
Weight
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
DelsymPhenylephrine
  • Good for treating dry cough.
  • 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
DelsymPhenylephrine
  • 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
DelsymPhenylephrine
  • 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.
Learn more
More about DelsymSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert