Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Codeine.
Codeine is an opiate medication most often used for pain relief and cough suppression. In cough syrup form, codeine is often combined with other ingredients, such as an antihistamine to provide cough suppression and treatment for respiratory ailments caused by a cold or allergies.
Codeine works in the brain to suppress the cough reflex. The antihistamine component works by blocking histamines to alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as draining sinuses and a runny nose.
Codeine is a narcotic medication that causes secondary effects including respiratory depression. For this reason, children under 6 should not use codeine cough syrup because it can cause severe breathing problems. It should not be used by people who have compromised breathing from conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Any form of codeine should not be used in combination with other medications or substances that depress the central nervous system.
Codeine Misuse And Abuse Is Dangerous
There has been widespread abuse of codeine and codeine cough syrup in the United States. The combination of codeine and the antihistamine promethazine is sometimes abused by people who mix it with certain soft drinks and sometimes candy. Taken at high dosages, it can cause hallucinations and feelings of sedation and euphoria. Prolonged intake or abuse of codeine cough syrup can lead to both physical and psychological opiate dependence.
The truth is, codeine cough syrup and other medications should be used under the supervision of a doctor. It's so important to follow directions closely. Taking codeine too often, or in a higher dosage than recommended, can be detrimental to your health. People who do can become dependent upon or addicted to the codeine component in this cough syrup.
Are There Alternatives To Narcotic Cough Syrup?
Codeine cough syrup can be taken safely and can be very effective. However, it is not meant for long-term treatment or for persistent coughs from chronic conditions and smoking. Speak to your doctor if you have had prior issues with drug abuse or addiction. He or she may be able to suggest a non-narcotic option for treating your symptoms.
This can include over-the-counter medication or holistic treatments. There are other things that you can do help to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Saline nose drops or spray can help, in addition to taking an appropriate amount of fluids. A humidifier or neti pot can also have beneficial effects for those who are sick.