What is promethazine codeine?

Promethazine codeine is used to treat runny nose, sneezing, and coughing caused by a cold or allergies. Because codeine is an opioid (narcotic) cough medicine, it may be habit forming.

Promethazine codeine syrup is a short-term treatment. It is not a treatment for smoker’s cough or chronic breathing problems such as asthma or emphysema. Promethazine codeine is primarily used as a treatment for dry cough and should not be used for coughs with mucus or fluids, which are considered productive. Inform your doctor if you have a cough with mucus or a fever, as they may prescribe a different course of treatment.

How to take promethazine codeine

Follow the instructions on your prescription carefully. Take this medication by mouth every 4 to 6 hours as needed or as directed by your doctor. Measure the liquid medicine carefully, using the syringe or dosage cup provided. Never use this medicine in larger amounts or for longer than prescribed. Take this medicine only until your symptoms clear up.

Opioid cough suppressants should not be given to children younger than 18. Children are at high risk for breathing problems and other severe, even fatal, side effects.

The dosage is based on medical condition and response to therapy. Adults should not take more than 6 teaspoons per day. Do not increase your dosage or use promethazine codeine for longer than prescribed.

Seek emergency medical attention if you suspect an overdose. An overdose of promethazine codeine can be fatal, especially in a child. Overdose symptoms can include slow or shallow breathing, severe drowsiness, cold and clammy skin, muscle weakness, fainting, or pinpoint pupils.

Promethazine side effects

This list of side effects is not complete. Call your doctor if you experience a symptom not included here. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea or constipation
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • Fast or irregular heart rate
  • Feeling anxious, restless, nervous, or irritable

Stop taking this medicine and seek medical care if you have more severe side effects such as:

  • Slow, shallow, irregular breathing
  • Stomach pain, severe constipation, vomiting
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Eye swelling or pain, blurred vision, or other vision changes
  • Severe drowsiness or difficulty waking up
  • Fainting, tremors, or seizures
  • Weakness, coordination problems, or confusion

Stop taking promethazine codeine and seek emergency help if you have signs of a serious allergic reaction such as:

  • Rash or hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe dizziness
  • Swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face

Know your medical history

Before using promethazine codeine, tell your doctor about your medical history, as certain conditions can cause issues with this medication. Conditions to watch out for include:

  • A head injury, tumor, or history of seizures
  • Breathing problems such as asthma or lung disease
  • Gallbladder, kidney, or liver disease
  • Mental and mood disorders
  • A history of substance abuse
  • Stomach or intestinal problems such as a bowel obstruction
  • Adrenal gland problems such as hypothyroidism
  • Severe high blood pressure or coronary artery disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma

Promethazine codeine drug interactions

Fatal side effects can occur if you combine this medicine with other drugs that cause drowsiness, such as other cough, cold, or allergy medicines, asthma medication, or medicine to treat depression and anxiety.

Other medications that may negatively interact with promethazine codeine include pain medications, muscle relaxers, potassium tablets/capsules, heart and blood pressure medications, diuretics, bladder or urinary medicines, seizure medication, or medicine to treat stomach problems.

Promethazine and pregnancy

Long-term use of opioid medication may impact fertility. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

Promethazine codeine is not recommended during pregnancy. It could not only harm the baby during pregnancy, but the baby could be born with an opioid dependency. Babies born addicted to opioids can experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and need medical treatment for several weeks.

Breastfeeding is also not recommended while using promethazine codeine. If you would like to breastfeed, do not take it. This medication will pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness, difficulty nursing, breathing problems, or death in a nursing infant.

Other safety precautions

Avoid alcoholic beverages or other drugs while using promethazine codeine. Dangerous or fatal side effects could occur. Do not drive, use machinery, or engage in any activity that requires mental clarity or clear vision until it is safe to do so. The effects will wear off within 4 to 6 hours, but because the ingredients include codeine, the medication will remain in your system — in saliva for up to 36 hours, in urine for up to 4 days, and in hair for up to 90 days.

Keep this and all medications in a safe place. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of substance abuse. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, and even death.