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Cheratussin is a prescription cough medication. It is most often prescribed for symptoms that arise from the common cold, flu or breathing issues, such as chest infections or bronchitis.
The combination medication is classified as an expectorant because as the codeine lessens the urge to cough, the guaifenesin works to loosen and thin mucus in the lungs.
- It contains an opioid codeine and the other is an expectorant known as guaifenesin.
As this medication works in the body, patients find that their coughs are more productive and actually working to clear mucus from their airways.
It comes in both tablet and liquid form. Tablets contain 10mg of codeine and from 200mg to 400mg of guaifenesin. The liquid form of the expectorant is 10mg codeine and 100mg guaifenesin in a 5-milliliter bottle.
According to Prescribers Digital Reference, the recommended dosages for otherwise healthy adults include:
- One tablet every four hours or as needed, and no more than six tablets in a 24-hour period
- Liquid formations are to be taken every four to six hours or as needed, and no more than six doses in a 24-hour period
- Prescriptions should be given for the shortest amount of duration possible, but consistent with a patient’s treatment needs
Because of the codeine in this product, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new labeling requirements in 2018, noting that these medications should be avoided by women who are breastfeeding and in children under the age of 18.
Opioids like codeine are not just addictive if misused, abused or taken over the long-term, they also pose a severe risk when mixed with other substances, such as alcohol. Codeine acts a suppressant on the central nervous system, which can exacerbate existing problems a person might have.
- Codeine is an opioid agonist and therefore has abuse potential and a risk for fatal overdose from depressed respiration.
Though taking it is rarely fatal, an overdose can be fatal especially when the medication has been misused in combination with alcohol. Symptoms of an overdose can include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Clammy/cold skin to the touch
- Shallow breathing
There can also be side effects even when taking this product as prescribed. Not everyone reacts to the medication in exactly the same way. Some of the most common side effects can include the following:
- Nausea, vomiting or uncomfortable constipation
- Facial flush and or the face feeling itchy
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Drowsiness and fatigue
If the cough and cold medication is abused, taken in high doses or used for more than a few weeks, this product can cause withdrawal symptoms because of its opioid content. Withdrawal symptoms may include some of the following:
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Sweating, chills and shakiness
Medications like this should be considered only after effective holistic treatments to cold or flu symptoms have been attempted. Often times, according to the FDA, simply increasing fluid intake will thin and loosen mucus in the lungs. Sleeping with a humidifier in the bedroom can help to relieve coughing that disrupts sleep and saline nose drops or a spray can also breakup uncomfortable congestion.