HomeDrug ClassesNon-narcotic Antitussives

Non-narcotic Antitussives: Uses, Common Brands, and Safety Info

Non-narcotic antitussives are medications used to treat dry coughs and relieve coughing. Unlike narcotic antitussives, they are not addictive. Common brands include Robitussin and Benadryl. They are generally safe when used as directed but may cause side effects like drowsiness. Consult a healthcare professional before use.

Non-narcotic Antitussives

Non-narcotic antitussives are a class of drugs commonly used to relieve coughing. Unlike narcotic antitussives, which contain opioids and can be habit-forming, non-narcotic antitussives do not have the potential for addiction or abuse. These medications work by suppressing the cough reflex in the brain, providing symptomatic relief for non-productive or dry coughs.


Non-narcotic antitussives are primarily used to treat persistent coughing that does not produce mucus or phlegm. They can be helpful in alleviating coughs caused by various conditions, such as respiratory tract infections, allergies, bronchitis, and asthma. These medications are particularly effective in situations where coughing becomes bothersome and interrupts sleep or daily activities.

Common Brands

There are several commonly available non-narcotic antitussives that can be purchased over the counter. These include: 1. Dextromethorphan: Often found in cough syrups and lozenges, dextromethorphan is one of the most widely used antitussives. Common brands include Robitussin, Vicks 44, and Delsym. 2. Diphenhydramine: Although primarily known as an antihistamine, diphenhydramine also possesses antitussive properties. Some popular brands containing diphenhydramine include Benadryl, Nyquil, and Tylenol Cold & Flu. 3. Guaifenesin: While primarily an expectorant, guaifenesin can also act as a mild antitussive. Common brands that contain this ingredient include Mucinex and Robitussin DM.


When used as directed, non-narcotic antitussives are generally considered safe. However, it is important to read and follow the instructions on the packaging or consult with a healthcare professional to ensure appropriate use. It is vital to avoid exceeding the recommended dosage, as excessive intake may lead to adverse effects. Non-narcotic antitussives are usually well-tolerated, but they may cause side effects in some individuals. These side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, and constipation. If any unusual or severe symptoms occur, it is essential to seek medical advice promptly. It's important to note that non-narcotic antitussives may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or taking specific medications. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should consult with their healthcare provider before using these medications. In conclusion, non-narcotic antitussives are an effective option for alleviating non-productive coughs. They provide symptomatic relief without the potential for addiction or abuse seen with narcotic antitussives. Always use these medications responsibly, follow the instructions, and consult with a healthcare professional if needed for guidance on proper use.

List of Non-narcotic Antitussives