Pregnancy is a crucial process for every woman. You would want to ensure your baby’s safety by watching what you eat and drink. While you’re pregnant you may suffer some health problems such as high blood pressure, fever and common cold. With any of these, you have to be careful of what medication you take as any non-prescribed medication could be a potential threat to you and your baby’s health. This is why it is important to see your obstetrician regularly.
Robitussin is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication used in treating symptoms of cold such as chest congestion and cough. Now the question is, ‘is Robitussin safe in pregnancy?’ There are several OTC medications your doctor could prescribe to help relieve you of the symptoms of cold when you are pregnant, read on to find out if Robitussin is one of such medication, what it contains, how it works and its side effects.
WHAT IS ROBITUSSIN?
Robitussin is an expectorant made in combination with a narcotic –codeine, and used to treat cough and reduce chest congestion caused by upper respiratory infections or common cold. Robitussin products on the market are either made with one or two active ingredients: Guaifenesin and Dextromethorphan. These ingredients treat symptoms related to cough and cold.
Robitussin may be available under several brand names or in several different forms and sometimes, your doctor may not prescribe it for just common treatment as some forms of the medication may not be used for cold treatment, so be sure whatever form of this product you may be taking was first prescribed by your doctor.
HOW IT WORKS
Robitussin helps loosen phlegm and thins bronchial secretions to make cough more productive. As we’ve said, it contains 2 active ingredients which are responsible for these actions. Guaifenesin, one of the active ingredients is an expectorant responsible for the thinning of your bronchial secretion and loosening of the phlegm. A productive cough would help bring up the phlegm that is causing chest congestion, hence, loosening the congestion and clearing your airways.
Dextromethorphan on the other hand, is an antitussive drug used to relieve constant coughing. It helps control how often you cough by decreasing the activity in your brain that triggers your impulse to cough. Although there is no official pregnancy category rating on the safety of both dextromethorphan and guaifenesin in Robitussin always consult your doctor if you are pregnant and considering using products that contain these active ingredients.
HOW TO TAKE ROBITUSSIN
Robitussin is taken by mouth with or without food, and depending on your age and medical condition, your doctor may prescribe it differently. However, for adults, the recommended dose is usually 10mg-20mg to be taken every 4 hours or 30mg to be taken every 6-8 hours. While for children of 6-11 years, the recommended dose is usually 5mg-10mg to be taken every 4 hours or 15mg to be taken every 6-8 hours.
Nevertheless, even these recommendations depend on the different strengths of dextromethorphan and guaifenesin available in the medication. Therefore, be sure to stick to either your doctors or pharmacist’s recommendation.
In case you forget to take a dose of the medication when you should, take it as soon as you remember and continue with your regular schedule, however, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule to avoid overdosing. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
ROBITUSSIN SIDE EFFECTS
Side effects are unwanted response to a medication when taken in normal doses. Robitussin can cause mild-severe side effects and though not everyone experiences it, be sure to discuss with your doctor about possible side effects, so when you begin to notice them, you wont be worried.
Here are some common side effects you could experience with Robitussin:
- Stomach upset
- Skin rash
Although most of the side effects listed below happens rarely, should you experience any of them, check with your doctor as soon as possible.
Severe side effects of Robitussin include:
- Blurred vision
- Trouble urinating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood changes
- Weak pulse
- Severe constipation
Aside these listed side effects, there are other possible side effects that you may experience with Robitussin. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that bothers you while taking the medication.
Just as we’ve said, not all medication should be taken in pregnancy, and although there is no official pregnancy category rating for dextromethorphan and guaifenesin, they appear to be safe to use during pregnancy. Many liquid medications for cold, often are made with these 2 active ingredients, and also alcohol. Alcohol can be deadly and can cause birth defects.
Being that there are different forms of Robitussin in the market, getting an alcohol-free Robitussin medication recommended by your doctor is the right thing to do. You could also check the packaging of the drug for any indication that it is alcohol-free.
ROBITUSSIN PREGNANCY THIRD TRIMESTER
It is true that we have said that taking Robitussin in pregnancy appears safe, however, it is not recommended to take the medication during the last 3 months of pregnancy due to increased risk of serious side effect when the baby is born. Side effects such as irritability, abnormal or persistent crying, diarrhea, and seizures. Regardless, always consult your doctor before starting any medication, especially in pregnancy.
ALTERNATIVES TO ROBITUSSIN IN PREGNANCY
Doctors have studied several medications used in treating cold and some of the ones that they have considered safe for use in pregnancy. However, any formulation of these medications labeled SA for “sustained action” or “multi-symptom” must be avoided, and as a general rule, do not take any non-prescribed medication when you’re pregnant.
Part from Robitussin are:
- Vicks 44
- Cough drops
- Saline nasal drops
DRUGS TO BE AVOIDED DURING PREGNANCY
Not all drugs in the market have been fully studied to know if they could be safe to use in pregnancy, but some of the common medications that should be avoided during pregnancy are:
- ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, which can cause birth defects or even a miscarriage
- Naproxen for pain reliever, but can cause birth defects, miscarriage, and can reduce the amount of amniotic fluid.
ROBITUSSIN AND FERTILITY
Some women believe that taking Robitussin will improve their fertility and help them get pregnant. This is based on their believe that a fertile cervical mucus is needed for sperms to enter the uterus and eventually fertilize an egg.
Therefore, Robitussin may help improve cervical mucus problems and make sperm entry into the uterus easy so they could become pregnant. This believe however is untrue and in fact, less than 5% of all fertility problems may be due to unfertile cervical mucus issues.
The major causes of infertility are:
- Ovulation problems
- Sperm problems
- Problem with the fallopian tubes
And none of these can be solved by taking Robitussin. A research group investigated if Robitussin could change the features of the cervical mucus, thereby also improve sperm survival and fertility. The brief of the report of the investigation suggested that Guaifenesin improved fertility in 80% of the cases in which the cause of infertility was believed to be primarily the cervical mucus.
But there is no reliable evidence that shows it improves fertility. Guaifenesin will not improve a man’s sperm count nor open a woman’s fallopian tubes that are closed, and it will not induce ovulation in a woman who does not ovulate. Check with your doctor to find out the cause of your infertility, as it might help in deciding a suitable treatment.
ROBITUSSIN AND BREASTFEEDING
There are no reliable studies that suggests that taking Robitussin while breastfeeding is safe. It is likely that the dextromethorphan in it could pass into the breast milk and if the Robitussin medication you’re using is not alcohol-free, then alcohol too could be passed through the breastmilk and affect your baby.
DRUG INTERACTIONS WITH ROBITUSSIN
Let your doctor know of any medication or supplement you may be using because some medications or supplements may affect the potency of Robitussin when they interact with the drug, and may even lead to severe side effects.
Robitussin may interact with:
- Narcotic pain relievers such as codeine and morphine
- Antipsychotics such as haloperidol and clozapine
Robitussin is an over-the-counter medication used in treating cold symptoms such as cough and chest congestion. They are of different forms but they usually contain dextromethorphan and guaifenesin as their active ingredients. Although these ingredients in the drug appear to be safe for use in pregnancy, it is advised that you only take Robitussin when prescribed by a doctor, as some form of the drug may contain alcohol and without your doctor’s prescription, you may be endangering the life of your baby taking any drug at all during pregnancy without your doctor’s prescription.