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What Is Robitussin DM?

By Sandi Busch ; Updated August 14, 2017

When you’re suffering from a cold or the flu, relief might be found in one of the medications available at every drugstore. To reduce the risk of over-medicating, choose products that target only your current symptoms. If you need to relieve coughing and chest congestion, Robitussin DM is one brand to consider.

Robitussin DM is the brand name for an over-the-counter medication produced by Pfizer Inc., but the name has changed, according to the Robitussin website. Robitussin DM now is called Robitussin Peak Cold: Cough + Chest Congestion DM. The Robitussin Peak Cold line has adult, maximum strength and sugar-free formulas. All of the formulas contain two active ingredients – dextromethorphan, or DM, and guaifenesin – that temporarily relieve cough symptoms and chest congestion.


Dextromethorphan suppresses coughing by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes you to cough. It relieves symptoms but does not treat whatever caused the cough. Never take more than the dose recommended on the package because too much dextromethorphan can cause serious side effects. Common side effects include dizziness, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. If you get a rash or experience other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.


Guaifenesin relieves chest congestion by thinning the mucus so that it’s easier to cough up and out of your airways. Just like dextromethorphan, it does not treat whatever caused the chest congestion. Headache, nausea and vomiting are the only expected side effects of guaifenesin, according to MedlinePlus. If you experience any problems while taking this medication, call your physician.

Robitussin DM Warnings

Never give Robitussin DM that’s intended for adults to children under the age of 12. Check with your doctor before using Robitussin DM if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Be aware that this medication might make you drowsy or impair your thinking. You should avoid drinking alcohol or taking stimulants because they can increase your risk of side effects. If your cough lasts for more than seven days, or if you also have a fever, rash or headache, stop using Robitussin DM and talk to your doctor because these could be signs of a serious medical condition.

Cough Medicine Abuse

Taking large amounts of dextromethorphan can cause hallucinations, loss of motor control and out-of-body sensations, which makes this medication a target of abuse. Consuming large quantities also can cause serious side effects such as confusion, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure and abdominal pain. Abuse of dextromethorphan can cause loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage and death.

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