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Cough suppressants

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Antitussives are agents that are effective against cough. Although the cough reflex is useful, suppression of cough for some part of the day may give symptomatic relief to patient and family. Pholcodeine and codeine are effective, but there is a small risk of addiction.

Dextromethorphan is neither addictive nor analgesic but is not available on an NHS prescription. Combined with diphenhydramine it is available as Benylin Dry Cough.

Diphenhydramine (Bronylin) is a cough suppressant; its antihistamine effect is sedative and decongestive; its anticholinergic effect dries up secretions

Opiates, methadone and diamorphine linctus are powerful cough suppressants with obvious addictive properties. They are potentiated by adding an antihistamine.


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