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Can I take this expired cough syrup? Just for tonight?
October 24, 2009 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Terrible cough, too late to leave the house in search of remedies -- can I take this expired (expired April 2009) prescription Tussionex cough syrup or is there a better solution in my house?

It's after midnight and the shiny new cough I developed today has gone from irritating and annoying (earlier this afternoon) to the kind of hacking cough that hurts my whole body. It's too late to go to the drugstore, and I can't even lay down for 5 minutes comfortably.

I have most of the bottle of Tussionex from when I had a horrible chest cold around my sister's wedding last April ... so it's about 18 months old. Do you think the medication itself is still safe to take?

Other things I have tried so far....

- Hot toddies this afternoon.
- Decaf tea with lemon & honey (and now I'm out of lemon).
- Neti pot (since there is also some sinus crap going on).
- Ran hot water into a plugged sink with a towel over my head and the sink and breathed the steam for 10 minutes.
- Mucinex (guaifenesin).
- Cough drops.
- Willing myself to stop coughing.

Most thing (except the last) have been soothing but I'm still coughing like crazy and can't rest. What to do?

Tomorrow I plan to go to the pharmacy to see if I can get something better, though I think the best I'll do is get some "original" NyQuil so I can be knocked unconscious at night.
posted by tastybrains to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
 
It should be fine.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:38 PM on October 24, 2009


Still safe. May be less effective, but likely the same as it ever was.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:42 PM on October 24, 2009


Drugs usually have expiration dates one year out because the drug companies don't want to test them for later expirations. At the worst, with it being expired for 6 months, it won't be as effective as it once was.

Take it. Sleep tight.
posted by zinfandel at 9:45 PM on October 24, 2009


You'll be fine taking it. I'd chase it with a little whiskey though. Always seems to help.
posted by sanka at 9:55 PM on October 24, 2009


Some recent medical research showed honey to be more effective than cough medicine. So skip the meds and take a teaspoon of honey.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:26 PM on October 24, 2009


Thanks everyone for reassuring me that it's probably ok -- I am going to go for it so I can get some rest.

Bluedaisy -- that research was about over-the-counter cough supressants, which don't do crap. Prescription ones, like codeine (which is in Tussionex) work very, very well. I've done honey today and it hasn't done crap. I find it's a lot better for an irritated throat and coughs related to that than it is for any sort of chest cold, which is what I seem to have.
posted by tastybrains at 10:31 PM on October 24, 2009


I don't suppose you've got any other synthetic narcotic painkillers on hand. I'm certainly not a doctor, but the sleep I got after two Darvocet during a bad flu was really nice.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:03 PM on October 24, 2009


Oops, sorry. As I wrote that, I felt like I should have double checked.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:12 PM on October 24, 2009


Also, a spoon of honey coats the throat. It may not help with hacking coughs, but if your other medication can cut that down, it will help sooth the remaining throat irritation.
posted by eye of newt at 11:14 PM on October 24, 2009


By the way, contra some of the advice above, mixing whiskey and codeine is a really bad idea.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:24 AM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cough syrups really are bugger all use - there are no prescription cough syrups in the British National Formulary because they are rubbish. If it's basically codeine in a liquid suspension, well, then it's not a "cough syrup", it's an easy to swallow version of codeine. Codeine tablets would have exactly the same effect.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:12 AM on October 25, 2009


Yep, coming in to say that the latest science says you're wasting your money on cough syrup. The synthetic opiates do have a mildly suppressive effect, but so would codeine pills. Anyway, you don't necessarily want to suppress a productive cough. Nyquil and other preparations that contain an antihistamine to knock you out are good for . . . knocking you out.

Sounds like the seasonal flu variant that is going around in my hood -- same progression from mild to deep cough. I'm on day 5 and it is finally mostly broken. Day 4 was a lot better. Days 2 and 3 were awful.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:16 AM on October 25, 2009


Chocolate Pickle - Thanks, I figured -- no whiskey & codeine for me.

Coobeastie & fourcheesemac -- Yes, but I don't have codeine pills, I have this codeine cough syrup from a year and a half ago. And it works in that I finally got some sleep without waking up every 15-30 minutes to hack and choke. I'll let myself cough during the day (with expectorants to loosen crap up) but I need sleep, yo!

Seemed to work fine last night -- I slept well.
posted by tastybrains at 8:43 AM on October 25, 2009


You can't get codeine pills OTC in the US so cough syrup is still pretty common over here.
posted by fshgrl at 9:00 PM on October 25, 2009


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