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Is It Safe to Take Guaifenesin with Codeine?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is safe to take guaifenesin with codeine as prescribed by a doctor, but the patient should inform his or her physician of any other medications he or she is taking to avoid any negative interaction. This medication should not be given to children under the age of six, and a physician should be consulted for children six and older. Guaifenesin with codeine is not meant for long term use and should not be taken longer than prescribed due to the risk of increasing side effects.

A prescription for guaifenesin with codeine is commonly prescribed to patients who suffer from cold and flu symptoms such as chest congestion and a cough. Some minor breathing conditions due to sickness are also treated with this combination medication. Guaifenesin typically breaks up mucus, allowing the patient to painlessly clear his or her lungs. Codeine is an effective cough suppressant which is classified as a narcotic, and reduces the need to cough by effecting a certain area of the brain. Together, these drugs work to ease common cold and flu discomfort associated with coughing and mucus congestion.

Guaifenesin with codeine is available in pill or liquid form and it does not need to be taken with food, but an increase in fluids is advised. The fluids will assist in the breakdown process and will make it less painful when the patient expectorates the mucus. There are several side effects listed for this medication including nausea, constipation, drowsiness, and dizziness. The patient should inform his or her doctor if any side effects occur and should discontinue the medication if they persist.

Continuous use of guaifenesin with codeine could possibly lead to addiction due to the narcotic component in the drug. Immediately stopping this medication without consulting a physician may cause withdrawal symptoms including cold sweats, vomiting, chills, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, diarrhea, and other discomforts. A doctor may prescribe a specific regimen so that the dosage is minimized daily so the patient is gradually weaned off of the medication.

The combination of these drugs usually causes extreme drowsiness, and alcohol consumption should be decreased or eliminated while taking guaifenesin with codeine. Due to the lethargic nature of this drug, it is not advisable to operate motor vehicles and/or any machinery. This drug is safe and effective but needs to be taken with precaution and as directed. Some physicians prescribe this to pregnant women in small doses as needed.

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