Nyquil and Alcohol Mixing: Effects & Why Not


Nyquil is a popular non-prescription drug used for treating the common colds, flu, and allergies. Because it is an over-the-counter medicine, most people opt for this product. However, it is vital that people should use this with precaution because of various reasons. It contains several ingredients; each of them plays a role in bringing forth its efficacy. Furthermore, it also has side effects, especially if taken improperly. Hence, it is important to know everything about this drug, including its active ingredients, alcohol content, and side effects.

Does Nyquil contain Alcohol?

Most of you are wondering if Nyquil contains alcohol. The following are the common ingredients found in these products.

  • Acetaminophen

A commonly used analgesic, acetaminophen will help relieve pain and reduce fever. Most drugs for common colds and allergies will contain this active ingredient.

  • Phenylephrine

Dilation of the blood vessels within the nasal cavity will cause a stuffy nose. Phenylephrine’s main effect is to shrink these blood vessels, which relieves a sinus or nasal congestion.

  • Pseudoephedrine

Another compound that has the capability to relieve nasal and sinus congestion is pseudoephedrine. However, due to drug abuse, medications containing pseudoephedrine are now regulated in the US. You can ask a pharmacist for these kinds of products. It is important that parents should not give their children pseudoephedrine if they are under 4 years old to avoid endangering your child’s health and life.

  • Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient in most cough preparations. It suppresses a cough by affecting the brain signals that trigger a cough reflex. It is important to note that this drug will not treat coughs caused by asthma, smoking, and emphysema.

  • Doxylamine succinate

Another main ingredient in Nyquil is doxylamine succinate. It is an antihistamine, which helps reduce allergy symptoms. It can also help encourage sleep. Thus, drowsiness is a common side effect of this drug.

Does Nyquil contain alcohol? If you check it’s product label, alcohol is not one of its main ingredients since it does not have any therapeutic effects. However, this medication contains a small amount of alcohol, which does not cause intoxication. Its primary role is to blend all active ingredients. However, it is imperative to avoid alcoholic beverages if you are taking this medication.

Why Nyquil and Alcohol Do Not Mix?

There are various reasons why Nyquil and alcohol are not a good combo, including the following:

  • Nyquil and alcohol do not mix because this combination can increase a person’s heart rate to a dangerous level.
  • One of Nyquil’s main ingredients, acetaminophen, may cause liver damage if taken in high doses and for a long period. Mixing this medication with alcoholic beverages will increase your risk of developing liver damage.
  • It is important not to mix dextromethorphan and any alcoholic beverages. One primary reason is that combining the two substances will intensify their neurological side effects such as lightheadedness, drowsiness, and concentration problems.

Nyquil Side Effects

Like all drugs, Nyquil has several side effects. Some you may experience them that do not last long. However, with prolonged use, this drug can also cause long-term adverse effects.

  • Short-term Side Effects

Nyquil is safe if taken properly. However, some people may experience minor effects such as lightheadedness, drowsiness, stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Due to these symptoms, it is highly recommended to avoid driving or operating any types of machinery if you are taking Nyquil products.

Serious side effects may also arise due to an allergic reaction, which includes a rash, hives, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing. Swelling may also occur, specifically in areas such as the skin, face, mouth, tongue, and lips. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Furthermore, before taking Nyquil products, it is best to ensure that you are not allergic to any of its ingredients.

  • Changes in Vital Signs

For some patients, they may notice a change in their vital signs after taking Nyquil. Typically, some patients may experience an increase in high rate and blood pressure that lasts for 6 hours. One may experience a tachycardia or a heart rate of 120 or more beats per minutes. It is important to calm yourself if you feel this change in your vital sign to prevent a panic attack.

  • Addiction

Nyquil has the potential for drug abuse due to its active ingredient, namely dextromethorphan. This compound has hallucinogenic effects and sometimes may provide a euphoric feeling. Some people will take high amounts of Nyquil to experience a high, thus leading to drug abuse and addiction. It’s important to use this medication properly and for a short period to avoid drug reliance and addiction.

  • Liver Damage

One may develop liver damage if you take Nyquil in high doses due to its acetaminophen contents. Thus, it is best to only take the recommended dose of the drug. Increasing its dose will not hasten your healing process. It will only cause detrimental effects. Furthermore, people with liver diseases or those who had a liver transplant should avoid taking any medication containing acetaminophen.

  • Complications

Complications may also occur, especially if you already have another medical condition such as diabetes. Nyquil products contain a sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup. For diabetics, this ingredient may increase your insulin levels or blood sugar levels. It is important to consult your doctor before taking Nyquil products.

People should avoid taking Nyquil products if they are experiencing digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and blockage in the intestine. One reason for this is that it can aggravate your symptoms. It may also interfere with your condition’s treatment.

Lastly, if you are taking other medication, it is vital to consult your doctor before taking Nyquil to avoid drug interactions.

  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers

Some drugs including alcohol can pass through the placental barrier and may cause harm to your unborn child. For this reason, pregnant women should always consult their doctors before taking any kind of medications to ensure safety. Your doctor can fully assist you in weighing the benefits and potential risks for this medication.

Breastfeeding mothers should avoid taking Nyquil products because there are insufficient studies that can verify if the ingredients in these products can be transferred through a mother’s milk. Another possible reason is the drug and its effects. The chemical may cause harm and toxicity to your newly born baby.