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Cough Syrup Misuse And Possible Side Effects

Updated on June 4, 2013
Cough Syrup
Cough Syrup | Source

According to a report published by the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) in 2008. There are thousands of youths aged between 17 - 22 that misuse cold and cough medications. Some of the ingredients in cough syrup and some common OTC drugs when taken in high quantities can cause temporary dizziness, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, hallucinations. An estimated 11% of young people aged between 18-21 are misusing OTC drugs to get high(2012 report).

Main ingredients in cough syrup are acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, Aleve and Tylenol. Dextromethorphan is an active ingredient in most cough syrups DXN has mild sedative properties that causes dizziness or hallucinations when taken in high quantities.

Why Do Teens Abuse Cough And Other OTC Drugs?

Dextromethorphan or DXN is sold as an over the counter medication. Ever since teens found out they could use it to get high, they are drinking cough syrup like pop soda for getting high.

Medications containing DXN are very easy to find, really cheap and perfectly legal. Kids can simply go to a department store and stock up on DXN. But they don't realise the side effects and the adverse effects that an overdose can cause. Youths who misuse OTC during their teens years will be on the out look for more intense and more powerful drugs like heroin and cocaine.

How To Prevent OTC Drug Abuse

  • Don't stock up on too much OTC drugs.
  • Keep medicine cabinet closed.
  • Always keep track of the number and quantity of OTC drugs you have in your house.

Cough Syrup Causes Drowsiness

Most cough syrup have some sedative qualities. Quite often coughs get worse at night, so the medicines are designed to help you sleep and reduce the effects of the cough. Most cough medicines contain dextromethorphan these drugs tend to make you very tired and drowsy.

Drugs like these act on the opioid receptors in the brain, triggering relaxed pleasure sensors.

Side Effects Of Overdose

OTC drugs containing opiods or mild sedative ingredients hen taken in high doses can lead to these side effects

Confusion, impaired judgement blurred vision, insomnia, dizziness, paranoia, sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, high blood pressure, headache, facial itching, skin rashes, behavioural changes, loss of consciousness, seizure, brain damage, and even death.

Home Remedies For Cough

  • Peel and slice some red onion horizontally. Mix brown cane sugar, raw honey and red onions to make a cough syrup.
  • While preparing tea, add few tulsi leaves and crushed ginger to it along with black pepper.
  • Take a spoonful of natural honey with black pepper twice daily.
  • Gurgling salt water is always beneficial in offering relief to an infected or an itchy throat aggravated by coughing.
  • Garlic-and-onion chicken soup is also an effective remedy for cough.

During Pregnancy

Most cough syrups should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking cough syrups or any new medication.


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