It is well-known that over-the-counter drugs can cause several side effects. Recent increase in mortality rates due to prescription drug overdose and narcotic painkillers overdose are being highly reported in several countries around the world.
A first official case of a cough syrup overdose has been published in the Journal BMJ
. It has reported that excessive consumption of over-the -counter cough syrup containing codeine has led to confusional state in a healthy 14-year-old girl.
‘Codeine is an effective cough suppressant and widely available without a prescription, so it is better to take medications that contain codeine to the recommended dosage levels.’
Codeine is a widely prescribed painkiller but it is also sold as over-the-counter in preparations of cough syrup. Codeine intoxication symptoms often include central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, severe itching of the skin, and flushing.
But doctors claim that there is little evidence showing side effects of codeine in cough syrup and confusion is a relatively unusual complaint.
However, in this particular case, the teenage girl experienced confusion and the loss of the ability to create new memories. She slept up to 20 hours a day, had a decreased attention span and suffered from intermittent headaches.
Before these symptoms, she experienced flu-like symptoms over a 15 day period, during which had been taking 2-3 spoonfuls daily of codeine cough suppressant and oral codeine phosphate.
She had not exceeded the recommended daily dosage of 3-6 spoonfuls, but she had exceeded the maximum recommended duration of usage of three days.
Each spoonful is equivalent to 15 mg of codeine, and she has consumed a total of 450-675 mg over 15 days, instead of the recommended maximum dosage of 270 mg during any given course of treatment. A urine test reported positive for codeine, and no other drugs were present.
Doctors concluded, "The combination of lack of efficacy, risk of acute intoxication and dependence, suggests that the use of OTC codeine preparations may be unwarranted."