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Pholcodine is used to suppress cough for temporary relief from dry cough (cough without any mucus or phlegm production).

How it works

Pholcodine belongs to class of drugs called cough suppressants. It works by suppressing the center for cough reflex in the brain (centrally acting) thereby providing relief.

Common side effects

Nausea, Allergic reaction, Chest congestion, Confusion, Constipation, Dizziness, Drowsiness, Shortness of breath, Excitement, Rash, Vomiting


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Expert advice

  • Do not use pholcodine, if you have liver or kidney diseases; any breathing problems or history of asthma.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery after taking pholcodine because you may feel drowsy or dizzy.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol or other drugs that induce sleep (CNS depressant drugs) it will aggravate the effects of pholcodine in the brain (sedative effects).
  • Do consult your doctor before using hydroquinone if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is pholcodine the same as codeine?
No. Pholcodine and codeine are two different drugs that have similar uses (treatment of dry cough) and mechanism of action. Pholcodine has a lower tendency for drug dependence (addiction) and may be preferred in certain cases over codeine. 

Does pholcodine make you drowsy?
Yes. Drowsiness is a side effect of pholcodine use.

Content on this page was last updated on 15 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)