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Pholcodine is a cough suppressant (an antitussive) used in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections.

Pronunciation: FOL-ko-den

What are pholcodine’s uses?

Pholcodine is used for the relief of a dry cough that is not producing phlegm (mucous).

What dosage should you take?

For adults, the recommended average dosage is five to 10mg three to four times a day. Doses will need to be adjusted for the elderly, those with kidney problems or liver disease.

However, always check the correct dosages with your Clicks pharmacist, including paediatric doses.

What special precautions should you take?

  • Pholcodine may cause drowsiness, so it may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery. It is advised that you don’t partake in these potentially hazardous activities until you know how this medicine will affect you.
  • Alcohol should be avoided when you take this medicine, as it may increase the side effects, including drowsiness and dizziness.
  • The safety of pholcodine for use during pregnancy has not been established, so discuss its use with your doctor before you take it.
  • It is not known if pholcodine passes into breast milk, so it’s best to avoid it while breast-feeding.
  • This medicine should be avoided if you have taken the class of antidepressants known as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) in the previous two weeks.
  • Pholcodine should not be taken concurrently with other cough and cold medicine.
  • Caution should always be taken when administering cough medicine to children as misuse can be fatal. Please ensure the correct dosage of paediatric preparations are used. Always keep medicine out of sight and reach of children.

Pholcodine should be avoided if you suffer from the following conditions:

  • A pholcodine allergy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchiectasis (widening of the airways)

Pholcodine should be used with caution if you suffer from the following conditions:

  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Drug addiction or a history of drug addiction
  • Asthma
  • Long-term coughing
  • Sugar intolerance

What drug interactions could you experience?

As a rule, always inform your doctor or Clicks pharmacist what prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or planning to take to ensure you don’t suffer the effects of adverse drug interactions.

What are pholcodine’s side effects?

Side effects could include:

This is not a complete list of side effects. It’s essential that you call your doctor should you notice any severe or odd side effects.

What are the overdose symptoms?

Call a doctor or the ambulance immediately if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Excitement
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Inability to coordinate muscle movements (ataxia)
The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in August 2015