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What Is Dexchlorpheniramine?

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  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Dexchlorpheniramine is a medication prescribed to treat symptoms of allergies and colds. These may include facial swelling, hives, and a runny nose. It is an antihistamine drug, which means that it works by interfering with the action of histamine, a chemical that the body naturally releases during an allergic reaction.

This antihistamine is available as both a tablet and a syrup for those who have trouble swallowing pills. Extended-release tablets, which should never be chewed or crushed, may be taken every eight to 10 hours. The regular tablets or the syrup will typically be taken every four to six hours. All doses should be taken with a full glass of water, with or without food.

It is essential for patients to take no more dexchlorpheniramine than prescribed. Patients who have taken too much of this drug may experience general weakness, extreme sleepiness, and an excessively dry mouth. Other possible symptoms of an overdose of dexchlorpheniramine may include insomnia, uncontrollable shaking, and ringing in the ears. A fever, skin flushing, and blurred vision, as well as enlarged pupils have also been reported with an overdose. Rarely, some patients may suffer from hallucinations or seizures.

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Dexchlorpheniramine may rarely cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. Patients who begin wheezing or those who develop a bad cough, swelling of the face, throat, or lips, or a bluish tint to the skin should seek a doctor's care immediately. Other serious side effects, that do not necessarily indicate an allergic reaction, can include a fever, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and fainting. Extreme fatigue, an inability to pass urine, and dizziness may also occur.

Elderly patients may be more susceptible to the potential side effects dexchlorpheniramine. A doctor may prescribe a lower dose and monitor their response to the drug. Patients should avoid consuming alcohol while taking dexchlorpheniramine, because this can increase side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.

Before taking dexchlorpheniramine, patients should discuss their other medical conditions with their doctors. This antihistamine may be contraindicated for use by patients who have glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, or bladder problems, like difficulty urinating. An overactive thyroid, asthma, and heart problems, as well as a stomach ulcer may also preclude a patient from using this drug. While this medication is not expected to harm an unborn baby, women should discuss the potential risks with a doctor. This drug may pass into breast milk and should not be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Dexchlorpheniramine may interact with other medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), sleeping pills, and anxiety medications. Antidepressants, such as sertraline and nortriptyline may also interact with this drug. Patients should disclose all their other medications and supplements before using it.

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