Guaifenesin/ codeine

Generic Name: guaifenesin/codeine (gwye-FEN-e-sin/KOE-deen)
Brand Name: Examples include Brontex and Pro-Clear

Some children have had serious and sometimes fatal breathing problems when using codeine after surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids. Talk with your doctor for more information.


Guaifenesin/ codeine is used for:

Relieving cough and throat and airway irritation due to colds, flu, or hay fever. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Guaifenesin/codeine is a cough suppressant and expectorant combination. The cough suppressant works in the brain to help decrease the cough reflex to reduce a dry cough. The expectorant works by loosening mucus and lung secretions in the chest and making coughs more productive.

Do NOT use guaifenesin/ codeine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in guaifenesin/codeine or any other codeine- or morphine-related medicine (eg, oxycodone)
  • you have severe high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, or other severe heart problems (eg, heart blood vessel disease)
  • you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB)
  • the patient is a child and has just had surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: OTC Medication Use In Pregnancy: Wise or Worrisome?

Before using guaifenesin/ codeine:

Some medical conditions may interact with guaifenesin/codeine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to morphine, codeine, or any other opiate (eg, hydrocodone, dihydrocodeine, oxycodone)
  • if you have a history of an enlarged prostate gland or other prostate problems, heart problems, kidney or liver problems, a blockage of your bowel or bladder, adrenal gland problems (eg, Addison disease), or an underactive thyroid
  • if you have a history of stomach problems, bowel problems (eg, chronic inflammation or ulceration of the bowel), or gallbladder problems (eg, gallstones), or if you have had recent abdominal surgery
  • if you have a history of asthma, chronic cough, lung problems (eg, chronic bronchitis, emphysema), or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or if your cough occurs with large amounts of mucus
  • if you have recently had any head injury, brain injury or tumor, increased pressure in the brain, infection of the brain or nervous system, epilepsy, or seizures
  • if you have a history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or suicidal thoughts or behavior

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with guaifenesin/codeine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • HIV protease inhibitors (eg, ritonavir) because the risk of side effects from guaifenesin/codeine may be increased
  • Cimetidine, digoxin, droxidopa, or sodium oxybate (GHB) because the risk of severe drowsiness, breathing problems, seizures, irregular heartbeat, or heart attack may be increased
  • Naltrexone or quinidine because the effectiveness of guaifenesin/codeine may be decreased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if guaifenesin/codeine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use guaifenesin/ codeine:

Use guaifenesin/codeine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take guaifenesin/codeine by mouth with or without food.
  • Drink plenty of water while taking guaifenesin/codeine.
  • If you miss a dose of guaifenesin/codeine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use guaifenesin/codeine.

Important safety information:

  • Guaifenesin/codeine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use guaifenesin/codeine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • If your symptoms do not get better within 5 to 7 days or if they get worse, check with your doctor.
  • Guaifenesin/codeine may interfere with certain lab test results. Make sure that your doctor and lab personnel know that you are taking guaifenesin/codeine.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take guaifenesin/codeine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Use guaifenesin/codeine with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Caution is advised when using guaifenesin/codeine in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Guaifenesin/codeine should not be used in CHILDREN younger than 2 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using guaifenesin/codeine while you are pregnant. It is not known if guaifenesin/codeine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking guaifenesin/codeine.

Possible side effects of guaifenesin/ codeine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Dizziness; drowsiness; excitability; headache; nausea; nervousness or anxiety; trouble sleeping; weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); difficulty urinating; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; seizures; severe dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache; severe drowsiness; tremor.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include blurred vision; confusion; hallucinations; seizures; severe dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache; severe drowsiness; unusually fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; vomiting.

Proper storage of guaifenesin/codeine:

Store guaifenesin/codeine at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep guaifenesin/codeine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about guaifenesin/codeine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Guaifenesin/codeine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take guaifenesin/codeine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about guaifenesin/codeine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to guaifenesin/codeine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using guaifenesin/codeine.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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