Drugs Q & A

Can I Take Robitussin While Breastfeeding?

According to the CDC, breast milk is designed to provide the appropriate amount of calories and optimal nutrition to support the growth and health of the infant. However small amounts of what you’re eating and drinking including prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements can pass to your baby through your breast milk.

Certain drugs such as alcohol, some illegal drugs, and some prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to cause problems if taken while you are breastfeeding.  For example, oral decongestants should be avoided by breastfeeding mothers because they can dramatically reduce milk supply with just one or two doses e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine. Individual ingredients need to be checked as there are many products available with multiple drugs each of which should be considered separately for safe consumption during breastfeeding.

What is Robitussin?

Robitussin is an expectorant containing mainly dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. It helps loosen congestion in your chest and throat, making it easier to cough out through your mouth. Robitussin is used to reduce chest congestion caused by the common cold, infections, or allergies.

These symptoms include coughs, sneezes, sore throats, chest congestion, itchy eyes and throats, stuffy noses, runny noses, headaches, fever, and body aches. Robitussin is available in targeted cough and multi-symptom formulas for both adults and children for daytime or nighttime usage.

In recent years, inspired by the needs of consumers, the brand launched two category-enhancing products: Robitussin Honey, the only cough and cold brand* that combines effective cough and multi-symptom relief powered by medicine plus certified real honey. And now, the brand has launched Robitussin Naturals, a 100% drug-free suite of dietary supplement products.

How should I take Robitussin?

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.

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.

Drink extra fluids to help loosen the congestion and lubricate your throat while you are taking this medication.

Take Robitussin with food if it upsets your stomach.

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

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a controlled-release, delayed-release, or extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow it whole. Breaking or opening the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight.

Can I take Robitussin while breastfeeding?

Yes, cough expectorants like Robitussin which contain dextromethorphan and guaifenesin as active ingredients have long been used during breastfeeding and are considered safe.

Studies indicate that it is unlikely that with usual maternal doses, amounts of Robitussin in breastmilk would harm the nursing infant, especially in infants over 2 months of age.

Side effects of Robitussin

Most people tolerate Robitussin when they take it at recommended doses. But in some cases, side effects can happen. Some of these side effects are more common than others, though all of them are rare. They can happen even when you use Robitussin at the recommended dosage. But more often, they happen when you use too much.

Common side effects

The more common side effects of the Robitussin ingredient guaifenesin can include:

•          headache

•          nausea

•          vomiting

•          stomach pain

•          diarrhea

These are the most common side effects reported with guaifenesin, but they are still rare. Most people will not experience these side effects unless the dosage of guaifenesin is higher than what’s typically recommended.

If you do experience stomach-related side effects, try taking Robitussin with food. This may help decrease your symptoms.

Serious side effects

There are no serious side effects associated with the use of guaifenesin. As with any drug, there’s always the risk of an allergic reaction. You should not take any Robitussin product if you already know you’re allergic to guaifenesin.

A rash on your skin, swelling of your tongue or lips, and trouble breathing can all be symptoms of an allergic reaction. If you notice these symptoms after you take Robitussin, contact your doctor right away. If you feel that these symptoms are life-threatening, call 911 immediately.

Side effects from overuse

You may also experience side effects if you take too much Robitussin. Kidney stones are the biggest risk of taking too much for an extended period. Symptoms of kidney stones include:

•          extreme pain that won’t go away in your back or side

•          blood in your urine

•          fever and chills

•          vomiting

•          urine that smells bad or looks cloudy

•          a burning feeling when you urinate

Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

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