Motrin/Robitussin Interaction Warning
On any given day there are many fake stories passed around on social media warning us about the dangers of one thing or another. When these stories are related to health, I try to pay attention and dig deeper to get to the truth.
One such story involves the use of Robitussin and Motrin in children. The story claims that these medications are dangerous and can cause heart attacks in kids when taken together. I have been a pediatric nurse for a long time and have never heard of any such warning, so I was immediately suspicious.
Example of Warning Posting
If you haven’t seen it, the story reads:
Safety of Motrin and Robitussin
Do not worry, the threat is not real. There are no ingredients in Motrin (which contains ibuprofen) or Robitussin (which, depending on the formulation and type that you get, contains dextromethorphan—a cough suppressant—and sometimes chlorpheniramine—an antihistamine) that interact with each other. These ingredients are present in other medications sold under different brand names, so it doesn’t make sense that the warning would only be for these two brands if it were true.Add to that the fact that these are widely used medications and if there were any such danger, a widespread warning would be put out by public health officials and health care providers.
Finally, a majority of pediatric deaths do not occur due to heart problems. Most children that get sick and pass away die from respiratory failure—meaning their lungs stop working before their hearts do. This is unlike in adults who more often have cardiac problems and more frequently die from heart failure without any respiratory issues. Heart attacks are possible in children but they are very rare.
It is important for parents to understand that Robitussin (or any other cough/cold medication) should not be given to a child under 4. These medications do have side effects and are not approved for use in young kids.
The Bottom Line
This claim about the dangers of Motrin and Robitussin is very clearly a myth. However, be sure to read the directions for all over-the-counter medications, especially the age range and recommended dosages.