Is It Safe To Drink Alcohol While Taking NyQuil?

In the United States, approximately 90% of adults have consumed an alcoholic beverage at least once throughout their life, according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). While drinking can be a pleasurable and social pastime for some people, it is important to understand the implications of taking alcohol, especially while on medications like NyQuil, an over-the-counter medication used to treat cold and flu symptoms. NyQuil contains a combination of drugs, including doxylamine, per, which is used to relieve symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and itching brought on by allergies or the common cold. Doxylamine can also be a sleep aid to treat insomnia (via MedlinePlus). It works by blocking the action of histamine, a natural substance produced by the body that causes allergy symptoms. 

In addition, Vicks NyQuil is comprised of the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. This is commonly used to treat coughs caused by the common cold. Lastly, the medication also contains the pain reliever-fever reducer known as acetaminophen. Some formulations contain additional ingredients, such as a nasal decongestant like phenylephrine. 

NyQuil is available in several different formulations, including liquid and capsules. The recommended dosage for NyQuil varies depending on the formulation and the specific symptoms being treated. You'll have to read and follow the instructions on the product label carefully and speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.

It's all in the ingredients

For starters, drinking alcohol while taking NyQuil is generally not recommended. According to Healthline, the active ingredients in NyQuil, such as doxylamine succinate, can stay in your system for up to 50 hours after taking the medication. However, the exact length of time can vary depending on factors such as dosage, age, and weight. Plus, the liver processes alcohol consistently at a fixed pace of around one drink per hour. So, if you consume one drink, it will typically take about an hour for your body to process and eliminate it from your system. 

The main concern with combining alcohol and NyQuil is the potential for an increased risk of drowsiness and impairment. As mentioned, NyQuil already contains an antihistamine, which can cause drowsiness, increasing the risk of falls and accidents. Likewise, alcohol can also cause drowsiness, and when combined with NyQuil, it can increase the risk of side effects.

Another concern with combining alcohol and NyQuil is the potential for liver damage. Both alcohol and acetaminophen can be harmful to the liver. After all, your liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol and acetaminophen in your body. Therefore, consuming excessive amounts of either substance can harm your liver. In fact, combining the two can also add extra pressure on your liver and increase the risk of liver damage, especially if you take NyQuil frequently or in large amounts.

What else you should know about NyQuil

Generally speaking, it is essential to be aware of any potential interactions between NyQuil and other medications you are taking. If you take medications containing acetaminophen, you should know that the maximum daily dose for adults is 4,000 milligrams (mg), as per Healthline. Taking additional medications containing acetaminophen can result in exceeding the recommended daily limit, which can be harmful. 

After all, in addition to drowsiness, dizziness is another common side effect of NyQuil. The medication can also cause dryness in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal symptoms in some people. As with any medication, it is always best to speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions or concerns about using NyQuil. Be sure to use only as directed and avoid taking it with other medications with similar ingredients. Also note that alcohol can interact negatively with various medications, including over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and many others, which can lead to adverse effects and potentially harm your health, as per