Drugs Q & A

Can A Child Overdose On Dimetapp ?

Dimetapp is an American brand of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines that is manufactured by Foundation Consumer Brands. At one point, Dimetapp as a household word referred to a single combination preparation marketed to relieve symptoms of the cold, containing brompheniramine (an antihistamine) and phenylephrine (decongestant replacing the formerly used pseudoephedrine, which itself replaced phenylpropanolamine). Variants were created, including Dimetapp DM with the addition of dextromethorphan (an antitussive or cough suppressant). Dimetapp Elixir and Color Free Elixir are intended to relieve nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing, whereas Dimetapp DM and Dimetapp DM Color Free Elixir are intended for colds with dry coughs and also to treat whooping cough. Early Dimetapp was flavored with cherry and plum as they were readily available during the time, setting a precedent for its purple color; however, the flavor has been described as a grape candy.

Like many over-the-counter medications, Dimetapp relies on marketing and branding as differentiators of otherwise similar (often identical) branded and unbranded medications to maintain their premium pricing. Additionally, the actual medications are subject to remarketing in other brands. As an example, “Children’s Dimetapp ND” is a 10 mg orally disintegrating loratadine tablet with a “cool blast” flavor additive. The same product with a “Citrus Burst” flavor additive was also manufactured and distributed by Wyeth but branded and marketed as “Alavert” (not “children’s”).

The more common Dimetapp Cold & Allergy is used to treat symptoms of the common cold or seasonal allergies, including sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Dimetapp Cold and Allergy is a combination of two medications, brompheniramine (antihistamine) and phenylephrine (decongestant). It’s a liquid that’s taken by mouth to treat symptoms from allergies and the common cold. It’s available over the counter and as lower-cost generics.

Can children use Dimetapp Cold and Allergy?

Yes, children aged 6 years to under 12 years can take 10 ml of Dimetapp Cold and Allergy by mouth every 4 hours. Use Dimetapp 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. Cold medicine is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Can a child overdose on Dimetapp?

Yes, a child can overdose on this medication when he or she has taken or is given more Dimetapp Cold and Allergy than recommended. Overdose symptoms may include:

  • Dark urine
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Sweating
  • Yellowing eyes and skin

 In addition, children less than 6 years old can’t use Dimetapp Cold and Allergy because the dosage is too high for them, which raises the risk for overdose and side effects. In some cases, Dimetapp Cold and Allergy have caused over-excitement in children. If your child is having an allergy or common cold symptoms, ask your child’s provider or pharmacist for other options.

If your child has taken more Dimetapp Cold and Allergy than recommended seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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