What is the difference between syrup and suspension

Difference between syrup and suspension.

When you take a medicine in liquid form for oral use, usually you don’t care about whether it is syrup or suspension. Common men do not recognize the difference between both of them. But these are two different dosage forms in nature and characteristics. There are many significant difference between syrup and suspension. There are four main dosage forms of liquid formulations in pharmacopeias like Suspension, solution, elixir, and emulsion. Solution and syrup are the same thing just called syrups in many countries instead of the solution.


According to the US Pharmacopeia syrup is a solution of Sucrose in Purified Water. It contains a preservative unless it is used when freshly prepared. When 850 gm of sucrose is dissolved in purified water and the volume of solution is made up to 1000 ml that is a saturated solution of sucrose.

Otherside, Indian Pharmacopeia gives another definition of syrup, it describes syrup as “a homogeneous mixture of solute in liquid is known as syrup”. In solution or syrup is a pre-dissolved solute in solution before administered as a medication. In IP 667 gm of sucrose dissolved in sufficient purified water to make it 1000 ml is called a saturated syrup.

A syrup is a clear and transparent liquid where no particles are visible in the liquid.  Some syrups may be colored visibly. 

In the syrup formulation, the drug content is equally distributed throughout the whole volume of the container. There is no need of shaking the bottle before taking the dose of the syrup.

Syrups/ Solutions primarily are manufactured in sugar or sorbitol base that is also known as syrupy base. Higher the concentration of sugar or sorbitol is the signal of improved quality and taste of the syrup. In general, 20% to 50% of sugar is used in the base of commercial medicines in the Indian and US market. A suitable flavor is also added in the syrup to improve the taste and acceptability. 

In syrup sugar concentration also helps to keep safe from microbiological growth in the syrup. 

Cough syrups are usually syrups in nature and are a good example of homogeneous mixing of drug content in the medium. Mucinex, Chestal, Dayquill, Robitussin, Chericoff, Ftox-DX, Cozicof syrup, etc are also syrups in nature. 


  • Syrups are the best dosage of drug medium for children who can not swallow tablet and capsule forms.
  • Syrups are more homogeneous in concentration of drug than suspensions.
  • These are easy to swallow due to sweet in taste.
  • Syrups are more instant drug release medium than other dosage forms like tablets and capsules.


  • Syrups are expensive drugs to transport anywhere in respect of tablets and capsules.
  • Manufacturing cost of syrups are higher than suspension.
  • Syrups are not safe for diabetes patients due to they contain high amounts of sugar.

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Suspension is a liquid dosage form that is usually similar to syrups in physical appearances but different in nature and properties. Suspension is a liquid solution that may have some suspended particles of drug content in the medium. These are viscous liquids that can make a floppy layer on the surface. These are not transparent as syrups are. 

Suspension can have some insoluble drug molecules mixed in so that prior to use of any suspension it is always advised to shake the bottle well so that each portion of the suspended drug gets mixed properly. After shaking the suspension the chances of uniformity of content increase.

In the suspension, the distribution of content does not remain the same when it is kept for a long time, the bottom layer of suspension becomes more concentrated than the top layer of liquid. Is very common in suspension a light-colored layer is seen on the top side of a bottle. 

Usually, antibiotics for pediatric use are prepared in suspension form, which is directed to mix in water before use, they are good examples of a suspension.

Antacids are also in suspension nature because they are not soluble in water and sugar. 

Some more examples of suspension are Aceclofenac and Paracetamol suspension, Promethazine and Paracetamol suspension. 


  • Suspensions are an easy  to swallow dosage form for infants and childrens who can not swallow solid dosage forms of medicines.
  • Cost of manufacturing is lesser than syrups.


  • The uniformity of content in suspension is not of the level of syrups.
  • Segmentation of drug content is very common in suspension. 
  • The taste of suspensions never becomes as syrupy.


In the pharmaceutical industry, it is well known that syrup and suspension are two different types of dosage forms but for a common man, these two things are similar and just liquid oral medicines. Syrups and suspensions are manufactured in the same section in a company but these two are slightly different in nature, quality, and characteristics. The difference between syrup and suspension is elaborated conclusively here, if you like it kindly share it forward. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Paracetamol syrup and suspension?

There is a technical difference between Paracetamol syrup and Paracetamol suspension according to USP and IP/BP. Paracetamol suspension is a palatable base solution where the content of paracetamol is mixed in a palatable medium. Other hand, Paracetamol syrup is a pre-dissolved content of paracetamol in the medium or syrupy base. There is a fundamental difference in both in view of taste, efficacy, and appearance.

What is the difference between suspension and solution?

Suspension and solution are two slightly different dosage forms of liquid orals. Suspensions are a mixture of the active ingredients and any palatable medium that may contain a large amount of purified water, the uniformity of content is not so properly been in suspensions. The solution is uniformly dissolution of active in the syrupy medium.

What is the difference between syrup and solution?

Syrup and solution are the same things as per its technical definition of pharmacopeia. These are synonyms of each other. These are homogeneous solutions of drug content in a syrupy base liquid.

What is suspension medication used for?

Suspension medications are used for antipyretic, analgesics, antibiotics for pediatric,  Antacids, and some more similar categories of drugs. It is a convenient dosage form of medicines that can be administered easily rather than a solid dosage form.

What is the difference between syrup and elixir?

The syrup is a homogeneous mixed solution of drug content in a syrupy base medicine.
While elixirs are the hydro-alcoholic drug solutions that are made when drug substance is not soluble in water then drug content is first dissolved in alcohol then mixed in sugar solution. 

What is the meaning of suspension in medicine?

Suspension is a liquid oral dosage form of medicines that are used for pediatric use and sometimes for adults in specific types of drugs like Antacids and Multivitamin suspensions. Children are unable to swallow solid oral dosages like tablets and capsules then they are given ready to use antibiotics suspension. Some antipyretics and analgesics also come in suspension form for children. 

BUY: USP 33 NF 28 REISSUE 2010 (U.S. Pharmacopeia National Formulary) (USP 33 NF 28) Hardcover


  • NF Monographs: Syrup – USP29-NF24
  • Indian Pharmacopeia-2010(Vol-II)-Liquid Orals-Page-744
  • Understanding Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms & Drug Delivery Systems: LANDRAU

Darshan Singh

The author has 20 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Companies. Have exposure to all audit documents for WHO-GMP, PIC/S, USFDA, Export documents, US-FDA documents, Validation of Pharma machinery, and Quality Control Instruments. Expert in Pharma Plant Setup and sale and acquisition of running pharma company.

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