Psychotic cold medicine?

Any time I take your basic over the counter drowsy-formula cold medicines, like robitussin or nyquil, they cause my heart rate to speed up, they cause me to have rapid weird thoughts, they cause me to hallucinate, to feel out of control and insane. This is not due to fever cause there’s been times I wasn’t THAT sick and just needed something to clear my nose and help me sleep a little. I take the normal dose, too, or sometimes less than an adult dose. I know it says on the package “may cause excitability especially in small children” and even though I am not a child I see how this could still be, but this is way more than excitability. Does this happen to any of you? Any reccomendations of non-prescription cold medicine that will knock me out without the weird side effects?
(Last time I took nyquil I swore a vampire crawled into my bed and drank from my ankle. I then felt a strong desire to slit my wrists. I spent the entire night saying “help me help me” and after the 6 or 8 hours the medicine works for were up, my mind returned to normal, as did my stuffed nose and sore throat. My husband has also experienced problems with nyquil.)


How much did you take?

I usually take a little bit LESS than what it says on the box for an adult dose. Occasionally, I’ve taken half that amount.

Well, as has been mentioned in other threads, Dextromethorphan(DXM), the main cough suppressant ingrediant is psychoactive. It’s effects most closely resemble PCP or Ketamine, though it is not as intense as either of those. I’ve never heard of it causing hallucinations and such at that low of a dose though. You would generally have to take quite a bit more than the recommended amount.

Those bastards quit making cold medicine with belladonna.

Yeah, I know about dxm, I figured maybe I was allergic to it or something, are there any (effective) medicines without it?

I have to take a double dose of almost any medication… I think I have a hyperactive liver… to get the normal effect.

Back in my youth, a boyfriend and I used to occassionally chug full bottles of Robitussin. Pretty strange trip. It was shortly after this that they started advertising Robitussin’s new “non-narcotic” formula… so I guess that when we did it, it was narcotic as well as chock full of DM. It definitely makes you hallucinate, among other things. I’d say just decrease the dose.

Havn’t had that experience although cough medicine does have some interesting ingredients. What other medication might you be on that would react with it? Don’t have a recommendation, sorry. Nyquil and Dayquil is usually where I turn.

As soon as I saw the thread title, I guessed this would be about Nyquil.

You may have a sensitivity, acrossthesea. It happens that I believe I do, and thus can’t take Nyquil. At the standard dose I can’t get to sleep, feel jittery, my eyes become quite dilated and light looks funny (objects have halos). It may be the Dextromethorphan in combination with something else in Nyquil, although a web search finds many pages that describe Dextromethorphan as having no known interactions.

Here is the Vicks Nyquil page.

It may be a reaction to another ingredient; the above page lists (per tablespoon):

• 500mg Acetaminophen (pain reliever/fever reducer)
• 15mg Dextromethorphan HBr (cough suppressant)
• 6.25mg Doxylamine succinate (antihistamine)
• 30mg Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride (nasal decongestant)

As I said, I react very badly to Nyquil, but I can take Robitussin-DM, which also contains Dextromethorphan.

Pseudoephedrine gives me a fast heart rate.

effective cold medicines? It is to laugh! Most just drug you up so you don’t mind the symptoms so much. While sudafed can help a little with congestion, they can make you jittery and cause palpitations. The antihistamines in it only thicken secretions and make a person drowsy. The DXM isn’t real effective in suppressing a cough, and if you take enough to quiet the cough, you run the risk of hallucinations. The acetaminophen in it might ease the aches and pains a bit, but plain old generic tylenol will do so also without the added ingredients. The dyes in the stuff can cause allergic reactions, the corn syrup in it will spike the blood sugar and can cause an osmotic diarrhea, and the alcohol in it is probably the most mood-altering ingredient in the bunch.

Cold remedies are a billion dollar industry that don’t deliver anything near what they promise!

My advice for your standard viral upper respiratory infection: Push fluids, take hot showers, use OTC nasal spray for a few days for the worst stuffiness, take some tylenol or ibuprofen, some sore throat lozenges if you need em, and go to bed!


Ringo, have you had your intraocular pressures taken recently? IANAD but have had a lot of experience with glaucoma. Haloes around lights is a classic symptom, and may indicate quite a high IOP. For some people, dilated pupils can ‘close-off’ the normal drainage channels that allow the release of fluid in the eye, and that’s when the pressure goes up. Some medications (especially the ephedrine/amphetamine based ones) can do this and can be quite dangerous for some people. Might be worth a trip to ophthalmologist just to be on the safe side.

And this Nyquil stuff sounds amazing! Just a shame we can’t get it down here. :smiley:

Hmm…, well, I’ll be scheduling an eye exam sometime in the next two weeks, and I think it’s SOP to check IOP. I’ll mention it, if they don’t otherwise check it.


I suggest you skip the stuff with added ingredients. Stick with the time-proven genuine placebo.

Vodka and orange juice.
Vodka and cranberry.
Vodka and peach mango.
Vodka and spicy tomato.

It will not cure your cold, but time will pass more humanely.

Thanks everyone for your advice…
Yeah, it could be possible that it’s one of the other ingredients that I’m sensitive to. The dye thing reminded me that i’m allergic to the neon pink coloring in benadryl (liquid and tablet form, while the capsule form doesn’t bother me.) So I’m sure it can be anything.

Could be either the dextromorphan or the pseudoephedrine.

I sometimes prescribe codiene cough syrups, which I think do give symptomatic relief from coughing. Otherwise, I largely agree with QtM, assuming smokers and asthmatics get fewer “standard” upper respiratory infections than non-smokers without asthma.