What is dimetapp used for?

“We have no data on these agents of what’s a safe and effective dose in children,” Dr. Ganley said.

Linda A. Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group of companies that market over-the-counter cold remedies, said the remedies had been approved by the F.D.A. and had been used for decades by millions of Americans. Consumers should take only the recommended doses, Ms. Suydam said.

Doug Petkus, a spokesman for Wyeth, which makes Toddler’s Dimetapp, agreed, adding that “parents of children under the age of 2 are encouraged to seek the advice of a physician before administering any over-the-counter medicine.”

Such cautions “are clearly stated in product labeling,” Mr. Petkus said.

The agency has for decades promised to review systematically the safety of all old drugs, but for a variety of reasons like budgetary constraints, time and popularity of a particular drug has not done so.

The pediatricians who petitioned the drug agency acknowledged that children’s cough and cold medicines were generally safe when given in recommended doses. But they added that overdoses were common, for a variety of reasons. Parents sometimes give their children two different brands, unaware that they contain the same active ingredients. Overdoses can also result when frantic parents try to shove eyedroppers or cups of medicine into the mouths of crying, spitting babies.

The safety problems might be worth risking, the petitioners said, if the medicines worked to suppress coughs or clear stuffy noses. But according to a growing number of studies in children, the drugs are no better than placebos.

“There is widespread consensus that there is no good evidence for the effectiveness of several of the compounds used in cold medicines,” said Dr. Ian M. Paul, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine who has studied the medicines. Last year, the American College of Chest Physicians recommended that parents avoid using cough and cold medicines in children, especially young ones.

Despite these growing worries, sales of the drugs are booming. Most major pharmacies carry a dozen or more brands.

Dimetapp Cold & Cough

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on May 27, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

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What is Dimetapp Cold & Cough?

Brompheniramine is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. It affects the signals in the brain that trigger cough reflex.

Phenylephrine is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. Dilated blood vessels can cause nasal congestion (stuffy nose).

The combination of brompheniramine, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine is used to treat runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itching, watery eyes, cough, and sinus congestion caused by allergies, the common cold, or the flu.

Dimetapp Cold & Cough will not treat a cough that is caused by smoking, asthma, or emphysema.

Dimetapp Cold & Cough may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 4 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children.

You should not use this medication if you have severe constipation, a blockage in your stomach or intestines, or if you are unable to urinate.

Do not use this medication if you have untreated or uncontrolled diseases such as glaucoma, asthma or COPD, high blood pressure, heart disease, coronary artery disease, or overactive thyroid.

Do not use this medication if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur, leading to serious side effects.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use this medication if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur, leading to serious side effects.

You should not use Dimetapp Cold & Cough if you have severe constipation, a blockage in your stomach or intestines, or if you are unable to urinate.

Do not use this medication if you have untreated or uncontrolled diseases such as glaucoma, asthma or COPD, high blood pressure, heart disease, coronary artery disease, or overactive thyroid.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take this medication if you have:

  • a colostomy or ileostomy;

  • diabetes;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;

  • cough with mucus, or cough caused by emphysema or chronic bronchitis;

  • enlarged prostate or urination problems;

  • low blood pressure;

  • pheochromocytoma (an adrenal gland tumor); or

  • if you take potassium (Cytra, Epiklor, K-Lyte, K-Phos, Kaon, Klor-Con, Polycitra, Urocit-K).

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether this medication will harm an unborn baby. Do not use Dimetapp Cold & Cough without medical advice if you are pregnant.

This medicine may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Antihistamines and decongestants may also slow breast milk production. Do not use this medicine without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Dimetapp Cold & Cough?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. This medication is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 4 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children.

Do not take for longer than 7 days in a row. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days of treatment, or if you have a fever with a headache or skin rash.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

If you need surgery or medical tests, tell the surgeon or doctor ahead of time if you have taken a this medication within the past few days.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since this medication is taken when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are taking the medication regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.

What should I avoid while taking Dimetapp Cold & Cough?

Dimetapp Cold & Cough may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of this medication.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, cough, or sleep medicine. Antihistamines, cough suppressants, and decongestants are contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much of a certain drug. Check the label to see if a medicine contains an antihistamine, cough suppressant, or decongestant.

Avoid taking this medication if you also take diet pills, caffeine pills, or other stimulants (such as ADHD medications). Taking a stimulant together with a decongestant can increase your risk of unpleasant side effects.

Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated during exercise and in hot weather. This medication can decrease sweating and you may be more prone to heat stroke.

Dimetapp Cold & Cough side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;

  • severe headache, mood changes, hallucinations;

  • severe dizziness or anxiety, feeling like you might pass out;

  • tremor, seizure (convulsions);

  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;

  • fever;

  • urinating less than usual or not at all;

  • feeling short of breath; or

  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Dimetapp Cold & Cough?

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using Dimetapp Cold & Cough if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as narcotic pain medication, sedatives, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by brompheniramine or dextromethorphan.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take this medication if you are also using any of the following drugs:

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Dimetapp Cold & Cough. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01.

Medical Disclaimer

More about Dimetapp Children’s Cold & Cough (brompheniramine / dextromethorphan / phenylephrine)

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  • Drug class: upper respiratory combinations
  • FDA Alerts (1)

Consumer resources

  • Dimetapp DM Cold & Cough

Other brands: Cold & Cough Childrens, Rynex DM, Tussi-Pres B, EndaCof-DM, … +13 more

Professional resources

  • Phenylephrine Complex (FDA)

Related treatment guides

  • Cough and Nasal Congestion

Texas Children’s Blog

In a previous blog (A Parent’s Guide to Over-the-Counter Medications), parents were given some important tips to help them safely navigate their way through the children’s pharmacy aisle. However, deciding between over-the-counter (OTC) brands and medications can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming. Today, let’s go through some of the most common fever, allergy and cold/cough medications available:

Fever and Pain:

Fever and pain in children can be safely treated with 2 medications, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. As shown in the table, each of these generic medications is marketed and sold under several, different brand names.

OVER-THE-COUNTER FEVER AND PAIN MEDICATIONS:

ACTIVE INGREDIENT

BRAND NAME

EXTRA INFORMATION

Acetaminophen Tylenol®, PediaCare® Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, FeverAll®, Little Fevers®, Triaminic Fever Reducer®, Tempra®
  • Multiple strengths available
  • Given to children of all ages
  • Given every 4 hours
  • May be found in OTC cold/cough meds
Ibuprofen Motrin®, Advil®, PediaCare® Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer IB
  • Multiple strengths available
  • Given to children older than 6 months of age
  • Given every 6 to 8 hours

Because these medications use different active ingredients and mechanisms to treat symptoms, parents can use both acetaminophen and ibuprofen (alone or in combination) to safely treat their child’s fever and pain. Of note, aspirin should not be used in children (less than 16 years of age) with viral illnesses due to an association with Reye’s syndrome, a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. Additionally, although acetaminophen can safely be used in infants and children of all ages, fever-reducing medications should not be given to babies less than 2 months of age prior to speaking with a pediatrician or healthcare provider. For more information on fever and its causes and treatment, visit here. Allergies: Children with allergic symptoms, such as an itchy/runny nose, sneezing/sniffling, or watery/pink eyes, may need to take a daily medication to help reduce their symptoms. Diphenhydramine, loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine are all common antihistamines, or medications which block histamine from causing allergic symptoms. As shown in the table, many of the generic, allergy medications have several different brand names:

OVER-THE-COUNTER ALLERGIC MEDICATIONS:

ACTIVE INGREDIENT

BRAND NAME

EXTRA INFORMATION

Diphenhydramine Benadryl®
  • Causes drowsiness
  • May be found in OTC cold/cough meds
  • Given every 4 to 6 hours
Loratadine Claritin®, Alavert®, Allergy Relief for Kids®
  • Given once a day
Cetirizine Zyrtec®, All Day Allergy Children’s®
  • Given once or twice a day
Fexofenadine Allegra®
  • Given once or twice a day

Diphenhydramine is a quick-acting antihistamine that requires more frequent dosing and is typically used to treat shorter-acting symptoms, such as hives, itchiness, or severe allergic reactions. Additionally, because it causes drowsiness, diphenhydramine is oftentimes found in many nighttime cold and cough medications. Loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine, on the other hand, can be used for more persistent or chronic allergic symptoms since they’re longer acting and only given once or twice a day. Although they use different active ingredients to treat allergic symptoms, they all similarly block histamine and should not be used in combination unless advised by your pediatrician or healthcare provider!

Cold and Cough: Triaminic®, Dimetapp®, PediaCare®, Robitussin®, Mucinex®, and Sudafed® are some of the most popular, over-the-counter cold and cough medications available today. Active ingredients, such as acetaminophen (fever reducer), brompheniramine (antihistamine), chlorpheniramine (antihistamine), diphenhydramine (antihistamine), phenylephrine (decongestant), dextromethorphan (cough suppressant), and guaifenesin (cough expectorant), either alone or in combination, are found in all of these brand-named medications. The difference between each brand (and their multiple products) lies in the “recipe” of active ingredients found in each medication. For example, Dimetapp® Multi-Symptom Cold & Flu is composed of acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine, whereas Mucinex® Multi-Symptom Cold is made up of dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, and phenylephrine.

OVER-THE-COUTNER COLD AND COUGH MEDICATIONS:

ACTIVE INGREDIENT(S)

BRAND NAME

Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Chlorpheniramine, Phenylephrine Dimetapp® Multisystem Cold & Flu; PediaCare® Multi-Symptom Cold; PediaCare® Flu
Dextromethorphan, Guaifenesin, Phenylephrine Mucinex® Multi-Symptom Cold; Mucinex® Congestion & Cough; Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Cold CF
Diphenhydramine, Phenylephrine Dimetapp® Nighttime Cold & Congestion; Triaminic® Night Time Cold & Cough; PediaCare® Nighttime Multi-Symptom Cold
Chlorpheniramine, Dextromethorphan Dimetapp® Long-Acting Cough Plus Cold; Vicks® Children’s Nyquil; Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Cold Long-Acting
Phenylephrine, Dextromethorphan Triaminic® Daytime Cold & Cough; Sudafed® PE Cold & Cough; PediaCare® Daytime Multi-Symptom Cold

It’s important to remember that over-the-counter cold and cough medications should NOT be used to treat infants and children less than 6 years of age. Research does not support or show that these medications provide any symptomatic relief or improvement in younger children, and have been associated with serious and potentially life-threatening side effects related to their use. Alternative medications and products, such as normal saline (salt water) sprays, suction bulbs/syringes/aspirators, and cool mist humidifiers, can all be safely used in young children.

If chosen and used appropriately, common, childhood symptoms and illnesses can be safely treated with over-the-counter medications. However, if your child has a chronic, medical illness or severe and persistent symptoms, you should always speak with your pediatrician or subspecialty doctor prior to starting any new medications. If your child accidentally takes too much medication or the wrong medication, call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222, but if he/she becomes unresponsive, stops breathing and turns blue, develops seizure-like activity, or appears very ill, call 911 and seek medical care immediately.

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