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DM (Generic Dextromethorphan)

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Why is this medication prescribed?

DM can stand for several things depending on the context, but in the context of prescription, it usually refers to a medication. “DM” commonly refers to dextromethorphan, which is an over-the-counter cough suppressant. It’s prescribed to alleviate cough symptoms associated with colds, flu, or other respiratory conditions. Dextromethorphan works by suppressing the cough reflex in the brain.

How should this medicine be used?

Here’s how DM (dextromethorphan) is typically used:

  • Follow Dosage Instructions: Always follow the dosage instructions provided by your healthcare provider or those on the medication label. Dosage can vary based on age, weight, and the severity of the cough.
  • Take as Directed: Take the medication exactly as prescribed. If it’s over-the-counter, follow the directions on the label. If it’s prescribed by a doctor, follow their instructions carefully.
  • Timing: Usually, DM is taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed, but again, follow the specific instructions provided.
  • Do Not Exceed Recommended Dosage: Taking more than the recommended dose can lead to side effects or even overdose.
  • Avoid Certain Medications: Check with your healthcare provider before taking DM if you’re already taking other medications, especially those that can interact with it.
  • Be Aware of Side Effects: Common side effects of dextromethorphan include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience severe side effects or an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do Not Use for Prolonged Periods: DM is generally intended for short-term use to relieve cough symptoms. If your cough persists for more than a week or gets worse, consult your healthcare provider.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting or stopping any medication, including DM. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current condition.

Other uses for this medicine

Dextromethorphan is primarily used as a cough suppressant, but it has also been studied for potential use in other conditions. Some researchers have investigated its potential in treating neuropathic pain and certain neurological disorders, though more research is needed in these areas to establish its efficacy and safety.

What special precautions should I follow?

When using dextromethorphan, it’s essential to follow these precautions:

  • Dosage: Take dextromethorphan exactly as directed on the label or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more than the recommended dose, as overdose can lead to serious health issues.
  • Age Restrictions: Some formulations of dextromethorphan are not suitable for children under a certain age. Always check the packaging or consult with a healthcare provider before giving it to a child.
  • Medical Conditions: Inform your doctor if you have any medical conditions, especially liver or kidney problems, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other respiratory disorders. Dextromethorphan may not be suitable for individuals with certain health conditions.
  • Drug Interactions: Dextromethorphan can interact with other medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements. Make sure to inform your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications you are currently taking to avoid potentially harmful interactions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before using dextromethorphan. While it’s generally considered safe when used as directed, it’s essential to weigh the potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.
  • Allergies: If you have allergies to any ingredients in dextromethorphan medications, let your doctor know. Some formulations may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other problems.
  • Side Effects: Be aware of potential side effects of dextromethorphan, including dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and allergic reactions. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, seek medical attention.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Avoid consuming alcohol while taking dextromethorphan, as it can increase the risk of side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Driving and Operating Machinery: Dextromethorphan may cause drowsiness or dizziness, so avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how it affects you.

Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about using dextromethorphan or any other medication.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

There are no specific dietary instructions for taking dextromethorphan. However, it’s always a good idea to maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated while managing any illness or condition. If you have any dietary concerns or restrictions, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dose of dextromethorphan, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Dextromethorphan (DM) can cause several side effects, although not everyone experiences them. Common side effects of DM include:

  • Dizziness: Dizziness is a common side effect of dextromethorphan. It may impair your ability to concentrate or perform tasks that require alertness.
  • Drowsiness: Drowsiness is another common side effect of DM. It may occur, particularly at higher doses or in individuals who are sensitive to the medication.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some people may experience nausea or vomiting after taking DM. This side effect is more likely to occur if the medication is taken on an empty stomach.
  • Constipation: Dextromethorphan can cause constipation in some individuals. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a diet high in fiber can help alleviate this side effect.
  • Dry Mouth: DM can cause dry mouth or throat. Drinking water or sucking on sugar-free candies or lozenges can help relieve this symptom.
  • Blurred Vision: Blurred vision may occur as a side effect of dextromethorphan. It’s essential to avoid activities that require clear vision, such as driving, if you experience this side effect.
  • Headache: Some people may experience headaches while taking DM. If headaches persist or become severe, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Nervousness or Excitability: In some individuals, dextromethorphan can cause feelings of nervousness or excitability. If you experience these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, dextromethorphan can cause allergic reactions, including rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, severe dizziness, or trouble breathing. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Serotonin Syndrome: Dextromethorphan can, in rare cases, contribute to serotonin syndrome when taken in high doses or in combination with other medications that affect serotonin levels. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

It’s essential to consult your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects while taking dextromethorphan. They can provide guidance on managing side effects or adjust your treatment plan if necessary. Additionally, if you have any concerns about potential side effects, discuss them with your healthcare provider before starting DM.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

When it comes to the storage and disposal of dextromethorphan (DM), here’s what you should know:


  • Keep DM in its original container, tightly closed, and out of reach of children.
  • Store it at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Avoid storing it in the bathroom.
  • Follow any specific storage instructions provided on the medication label.


  • Dispose of expired or unused DM properly according to local regulations or guidelines.
  • Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so.
  • If you’re unsure about how to dispose of DM safely, consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal authority for guidance.

In case of emergency/overdose

If you suspect an overdose of dextromethorphan or experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, hallucinations, seizures, loss of consciousness, or severe dizziness, seek emergency medical attention immediately. You can also contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (in the United States) for guidance on what to do next.

What other information should I know?

  • Avoid Mixing with Other Substances: Do not mix dextromethorphan with alcohol or other medications, unless specifically directed by your healthcare provider. Mixing substances can increase the risk of adverse effects or overdose.
  • Keep Track of Your Medications: Keep a record of all medications you’re taking, including dextromethorphan, and share it with your healthcare provider. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal products.
  • Follow Instructions Carefully: Always follow the dosage instructions provided by your healthcare provider or those on the medication label. Do not exceed the recommended dose unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider.
  • Inform Healthcare Providers: Inform any healthcare provider involved in your care, including doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, that you’re taking dextromethorphan. This is important for preventing potential interactions with other medications or treatments.
  • Be Cautious with Certain Medical Conditions: If you have certain medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, asthma, or a history of substance abuse, inform your healthcare provider before taking dextromethorphan. They can provide guidance on whether it’s safe for you to use this medication.
  • Report Side Effects: If you experience any unexpected or severe side effects while taking dextromethorphan, report them to your healthcare provider. They can assess whether any adjustments to your treatment plan are necessary.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the safe storage, disposal, and use of dextromethorphan and know what to do in case of emergency or overdose.

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